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IN PREPARATION 



THE JESUS PKOBLEM 

A EE-STATEMENT OP THE MYTH THBOEY 



BY THE SAME AUTHOR 



A SHOET HISTORY OF FREETHOUGHT. 2 vols. 3rd edition. 

ESSAYS TOWARDS A CRITICAL METHOD. (Out of print.) 

NEW ESSAYS TOWARDS A CRITICAL METHOD. 

MONTAIGNE AND SHAKESPEARE. Second edition. With addi- 
tional essays on cognate subjects. 

BUCKLE AND HIS CRITICS : a Sociological Study. 

THE SAXON AND THE CELT : a Sociological Study. 

MODERN HUMANISTS: Studies of Carlyle, Mill, Emerson, Arnold, 
Euskin, and Spencer. Fourth edition. 

THE FALLACY OF SAVING : a Study in Economics. 

THE EIGHT HOURS QUESTION : a Study in Economics. 

THE DYNAMICS OF RELIGION : an Essay in English Culture- 
History. (By " M. W. Wiseman.") (Out of print.) 

CHRISTIANITY AND MYTHOLOGY. Second edition. 

A SHORT HISTORY OF CHRISTIANITY. Second edition. 

PAGAN CHRISTS. Second edition. 

CRITICISMS. 2 vols. 

TENNYSON AND BROWNING AS TEACHERS. 

ESSAYS IN ETHICS. 

ESSAYS IN SOCIOLOGY. 2 vols. 

LETTERS ON REASONING. Second edition. 

DID SHAKESPEARE WRITE " TITUS ANDRONICUS " ? 

PIONEER HUMANISTS : Machiavelli, Bacon, Hobbes, Spinoza, 
Shaftesbury, Mandeville, Gibbon, and Mary Wollstonecraft. 

TRADE AND TARIFFS. 

COURSES OF STUDY. Second edition. 

CHAMBERLAIN : a Study. 

CHARLES BRADLAUGH. (Part I. By Mrs. Bradlaugh Bonner. 
Part II. 

RATIONALISM. 

THE BACONIAN HERESY : a Confutation. 

THE EVOLUTION OF STATES. (New edition of "An Introduc- 
tion to English Politics.") 

ELIZABETHAN LITERATURE. 

WHAT TO READ. New edition. 

WAR AND CIVILIZATION. 

THE GERMANS. 



THE HISTORICAL JESUS 



A SUKVEY OF POSITIONS 



BY 

JOHN M. EOBEKTSON 



[ISSUKD FOR THE RATIONALIST PRESS ASSOCIATION, LIMITED] 



London : 
WATTS & CO.. 

17 JOHNSON'S COURT, FLEET STREET, E.G. 
1916 



LOAN STACK 



CONTENTS 



3T303 
1^4 



PAGE 

Preamble ...--.. xi 



Chapter I.— THE SNAKE OF PRESUPPOSITION 

Presupposition in science. The Copernican theory. The 
reception of Galileo, Harvey, and Darwin. Blinding effects 
of scholarship. The theological record. Mutations of Chris- 
tian opinion. Defence of the belief in witchcraft. Leibnitz 
and Newton. Criticism of the Pentateuch. Parvish, 
Astruc, Voltaire, Colenso, and the professional scholars - 1 

Chapter II.— MODES OP CONSERVATIVE FALLACY 

Persistence of the theological temper. Each abandoned posi- 
tion first defended with the same fierceness. Saner forms 
of conservatism. Persistence in presupposition. Canon 
Inge on Jesus and Paul. The logical hiatus. Mill's 
precedent. His dithyrambic mood and critical inadequacy. 
Disregard of the documentary evidence. Need to face the 
real problem. The sociological process. Mill's dictum 
contrasted with those of Newman and Baur - - - 6 

CHAPTER III.— ILLUSIONS AS TO GOSPEL ETHIC 

Mill's method and mind non-historical. " The historic sense." 
Dr. J. E. Carpenter's. The concept of "sublimity." God 
portraiture. Its limitations. The Gospel ethic. Signi- 
ficance of the contradictions. The parable of the Good 
Samaritan. Incompetent verdicts of theologians. The- 
story of Lycurgus and Alcander. Plutarch on forgive- 
ness of enemies. Fanaticism of Christian estimates of 
antiquity - - - - - - - 18 

Chapter IV.— THE METHOD OF BLUSTER 
The historic problem. Its treatment by a Unitarian cleric. 
The method of bluster. The real and the pretended 
character of the Gospel according to Mark. Wellhausen's 



276 



vi CONTENTS 



PAGE 

estimate. Actual features of primitive and popular myth- 
lore. Biography in Plutarch. Mr. McCabe on the Marcan 
residuum. The gospel figure. Doctrinal determinants - 30 



Chapter v.— SCHMIEDEL AND DEEOGATORY MYTH 

Collapse of the thesis of "human characteristics." The myth 
and the historicity of Herakles. The more considerate 
thesis of Schmiedel : argument from " derogatory" episodes. 
Kalthofi on the human characteristics in RUTH and JONAH. 
Confusion of the new argument. Jesus introduced in Mark 
with divine characteristics. The Unitarian blunder as to 
"conventional" and " unconventional " hero-worship. Jewish 
and Pagan heroes and Gods alike put in " derogatory " 
positions. Herakles, Dionysos, and Apollo. Need to apply 
anthropological, mythological, and hierological as well as 
N. T. scholarship. Grounds for a Christian myth of the 
Founder as opposed by his family - - - - 44 

Chapter VI.— THE VISIONARY EVANGEL 

B. Weiss' s "Primitive Gospel." Its characteristics common 
to Mark. The enigma of the evangel of the Twelve. 
That problem never rightly realized by the exegetes. The 
allegorical explanations to be withheld from the people. 
Complete deficit ol historical matter. The evangel of the 
Twelve a myth. Real origin in a rite, not in an evangel. 
The last hypothesis : a political evangel that could not be 
later avowed. Incompatibility of this view with the 
Gospels. Composition of the record. Why the Primitive 
Gospel lacked the Tragedy. Breakdown of the traditionary 
explanation. Orthodox avowals of anomaly- - - 61 

Chapter VII.— THE ALLEGED CONSENSUS OF SCHOLARS 

Resort to the myth-theory forced by the data. Unitarian 
attitude to that. Appeal for acceptance of the " consensus 
of scholars." No such consensus ever attained. Dalman 
on his fellow-specialists. His own presuppositions. Preten- 
sions to solve historical problems through philology. Dis- 
tinction between pedantry and science . Candour of Schmiedel . 
Inadequacy of his method. Resistance of scholarship to 



CONTENTS vii 



PAGE 

scientific thought. Colenso and the Zulu and the orthodox 
resistance. Attack on the New Testament scholars by- 
Professor Blass - - - - - - 62 

Chapter VIII.— CONSERVATIVE POSITIONS 

Modifications of conservative attitude. Lack of good faith or 
of comprehension. Samples of misrepresentation. The 
Unitarian attitude. Treatment of myth-solutions : the 
Myth of the Temptation. Dr. Thorburn's orthodox solution. 
Mythology and psychology. Psychic determinants of resis- 
tance to new views. Attitude to "healing powers" ascribed 
to Jesus. Force of presupposition. Davidson's "must." - 74 

CHAPTER IX.— BLASS AND FLINDERS PETRIE 

The attempt to find an " impersonal " test of the documentary 
basis. Dr. Flinders Petrie on THE GROWTH OF THE 
Gospels. Theory of selection and compilation from logia. 
Acceptance of any item as early. The argument of Blass 
as to possibility of real predictions. Case of Savonarola. 
Nature of the problem. Political anticipation versus 
prophecy. Investigation of the Savonarola case. His 
earlier prophecies, conditional and absolute - - - 82 

CHAPTER X.— THE SAVONAROLA FALLACY 
Comparison between Savonarola's prediction of the Sack of 
Rome and the gospel prophecy of the Fall of Jerusalem. 
Normality of Savonarola's vaticinations. Historical blunder 
of the Blass school as to medieval warfare. Frequency 
of sacrilege in Christian war. The Christian sack of 
Constantinople - - - - - - 93 

Chapter XI.— THE "LOGIA" THEORY AND THE 
HISTORICAL TEST 
Blass on the gospel prophecy : analysis of the texts. Their 
arbitrary handling by Blass. The " Nucleus " theory of Dr. 
Petrie. Its arbitrary implications. Impersonal method of 
selection not followed by impersonal inference from the 
results. The logia theory much more compatible with the 
myth-theory than with the tradition. Test cases - - 104 



viii CONTENTS 



PAOB 

Chapter XII.— FAILURE OP THE "LOGIA" THEORY 
The scientific inference. Omission and invention of logia 
necessarily to be inferred as well as selection. Implicit aban- 
donment of certain prophecies, and resulting incoherence 
of the argument. Reversion to the fundamental issue 
between supernaturalism and reason. Final futility of the 
attempt to vindicate the documents. Possibilities as to 
currency of written logia. Illustration from Islam. The 
mass of incompatibilities in the Gospel Teaching. Possi- 
bilities of genuine self-contradiction. Carlyle and Ruskin. 
Mohammed. The gospels not thus explicable. Damaging 
implications of the logia theory. Variety of "Christs." 
Papias. BARUCH and ENOCH - - - - 113 

CHAPTER XIII.— RESURGENCE OF THE HISTORIC 
PROBLEM 
The actually recovered logia of Oxyrhynchus. Their incom- 
patibility with Dr. Petrie's assumption of historic genuine- 
ness for all. The real process of composition in Luke's 
gospel. Motives for invention. The myth of the Seventy 
Disciples a sample and test case. Inadequacy alike of the 
documentary theory and that of scattered logia - - 123 

CHAPTER XIV.— ORTHODOXY AND THE "ORAL" 
HYPOTHESIS 
The " oral " hypothesis of the Rev. A. Wright. His approxima- 
tions to the " liberal " chronology as against the Blass school. 
His candour. Hypothesis of fifty-two Lessons. Another 
"selection" theory — selection from oral traditions locally 
cherished. Wide departures of Mr. Wright from his theory. 
Unaccountableness of apostolic information. The tradition 
as to baptism. Problem of the duration of the Ministry, 
and of the one or four visits to Jerusalem. The oral hypo- 
thesis, like the others, more compatible with the myth- 
theory than with the tradition. Stand on the Resurrection 129 

CHAPTER XV.— THE METHOD OP M. LOISY 

M. Loisy and the "liberal" school. His attitude to the 

myth-theory. His certitudes. Disclaims biography, and 

produces one. His treatment of the legend. The problem 

of the multitude of healings. Collapse of the assumption 



CONTENTS ix 



in the case of Nazareth. Inconsistency of M. Loisy's method, 
and weakness of his solutions. His acceptance of the Joseph 
legend. "The carpenter." Difficulty set up by Origen. 
The myth solution. "The son of Mary." Dilemma set up 
by later passages. Problem of the Messianic declaration of 
Peter. Impossibility of the personality set up by Petrine 
and anti-Petrine records . . . . . 141 

CHAPTER XVI.— THE TRIAL CRUX 
Lax treatment of the main problems by M. Loisy. Acceptance 
of the non-historical as historical. The Purification of the 
Temple. The Agony. Approximation to the true solution. 
The priestly Trial. Virtual abandonment of the narrative 
by M. Loisy. Illicit reconstruction. Successive retreats of 
the "liberal" school. Surrender of (1) the Trial before 
Herod, (2) the Johannine record, (3) the Trial before the 
priests. Stand on the Trial before Pilate. Uutenableness 
of that. The Roman Trial admittedly a loose tradition. 
Impossible as recorded. A clear solution supplied by the 
myth theory. Irreconcilable character of the Triumphal 
entry and the unanimous hostility of the people before 
Pilate. The Barabbas story admittedly unhistorical. Its 
presence accounted for only by the myth-theory - - 161 

CHAPTER XVII.— THE JESUS-FIGURE OF M. LOISY 
The dilemma of the Evangel of the Twelve. M. Loisy on the 
Teaching of Jesus as preparative for the cult. Destructive 
effect of his admissions as to the teaching of Paul. His 
attitude towards the myth-theory. Demanding definiteness, 
he rests in the indefinite. His self-contradictions. His 
ascription of originality to quoted teachings. Incompati- 
bility of his Teacher and his Messiah. The teaching as to 
divorce not that of one expecting a new order. Its prior 
currency. Bases of the gospel ethic. The Good Samaritan 
documentarily a late creation- - - - - 173 

CHAPTER XVIII.— THE PAULINE PROBLEM 
M. Loisy on the testimony of Paul. His misconception as to 
its bearings on the myth -theory. Van Manen helped by his 
own thesis to accept the historicity of Jesus. The myth- 
theory quite independent of the dating of the Epistles. 
Importance of noting that, early or late, they are interpolated. 



CONTENTS 



PAGB 

M. Loisy's treatment of the documentary problem. Van 
Manen's strong case against the Epistles. Need to revise the 
details of the chronology. Also to orient the myth-theory 
aright. Inadequacy of the theories of KalthoS and Kautsky - 185 

CHAPTER XIX.— THE HISTORY OF THE DISCUSSION 
Prospects of controversy. Slow advance of the " liberal " view. 
Identity of the final positions of Strauss and Loisy. Tentative 
beginnings of the myth-theory. Effects of persecution and 
of Strauss's final dialectic. Schweitzer on the evolution 
"from Eeimarus to Wrede." Bruno Bauer. Claims for 
"the German temperament." Need for a truly scientific 
temper. Effects of Bauer's flaws of mood and method. 
Schweitzer's amenity and candour. Demonstrates the 
shortsightedness of German specialism. Schweitzer's 
ignorance concerning the myth-theory in its later develop- 
ments. His laxities in research. His own thesis - - 193 

CHAPTER XX.— THE GROUND CLEARED FOR THE 
MYTH-THEORY 
The issue as between Schweitzer and Wrede. Each destroys 
one half of the " liberal " case for historicity. Schweitzer 
confutes Wrede, and then puts a still more untenable view. 
His acceptance of the triumphal entry into Jerusalem as 
historical. His Jesus hailed not as a Messiah but as Elias. 
Schweitzer's new view of the Betrayal. Judas a revealer 
of his Master's private claim to be Messiah. The multitude 
supposed to be thus cleared of the charge of fickleness. 
Schweitzer's fallacy as to Messianic claims being blasphemous. 
His service to criticism by clearing the ground. His final 
ethical and sociological confusion. The fortunes of the 
myth-theory in England. Early adumbrations. Difference 
in modern spirit and method, resulting from establishment 
of anthropology as a science. Lyell and Tylor. Schweitzer's 
scientific temper. The myth-theory. The battleground of 
the future. Positions of Sir J. G. Frazer. Countervailing 
declarations by supporters of the myth-theory. The ques- 
tion one of science, not sentiment . - - - 201 

CONCLUSION - - - - - - - 211 

INDEX - - - 217 



PKEAMBLE 



The problem of the historicity of the Jesus of the 
Gospels has been discussed by me in large sections 
of two bulky books, which in other sections deal 
with matters only indirectly connected with this, 
while even the sections directly devoted to the 
problem cover a good deal of mythological and 
anthropological ground which not many readers 
may care to master. The ** myth theory " devel- 
oped in them, therefore, may not be readily grasped 
even by open-minded readers ; and the champions 
of tradition, of whatever school, have a happy 
hunting-ground for desultory misrepresentation and 
mystification. It has been felt to be expedient, 
therefore, by disinterested readers as well as by 
me, to put the problem in a clearer form and in a 
more concise compass. The process ought to 
involve some logical improvement, as the mytho- 
logical investigation made in Christianity and 
Mythology had been carried out independently of 
the anthropological inquiry made in Pagan Christs, 
and the theory evolved may well require unification. 
In particular, the element of Jewish mythology 



xii PEEAMBLE 



calls for fuller development. And the highly im- 
portant developments of the myth theory by Pro- 
fessor Drews and Professor W. B. Smith have to 
be considered v^^ith a view to co-ordination. 

To such a re-statement, however, certain pre- 
liminary steps are necessary. The ground needs to 
be cleared (1) of a priori notions as to the subject 
matter ; (2) of mistaken opinions as to a supposed 
** consensus of critics "; and (3) of uncritical assump- 
tions as to the character of the Gospel narratives. 

Writers who have not gone very deeply into 
problems of normal history, however they may have 
specialized in the Biblical, are still wont to assert 
that the historicity of non-supernatural data in the 
Sacred Books is on all fours with that of the 
subject matter of '* profane " history. Indeed it is 
still common to hear it claimed that the Kesurrec- 
tion is as well ''attested" as the assassination of 
Julius Caesar, or even better. In exactly the same 
tone and spirit did the traditionalists of a previous 
generation assert that the stoppage of the sun and 
moon in the interest of Joshua was better attested 
than any equally ancient historical narrative. 
Those who have decided to abandon the super- 
natural reduce the claim, of course, to the historicity 
of the Trial and Crucifixion ; but as to these they 
confidently repeat the old formulas. Yet in point 
of fact they have made no such critical scrutiny of 



PEEAMBLE xiii 



even these items as historians have long been used 
to make, with destructive results, into many episodes 
of ancient history — for instance, the battle of Ther- 
mopylae and the founding of the Spartan constitu- 
tion by Lycurgus. Men who affect to dismiss the 
myth theory as an ungrounded speculation are all 
the while taking for granted the historicity of a 
record which is a mere tissue of incredibilities. 

It has been justly remarked that serious risk of 
error is set up even by the long-current claim of 
naturalist critics to *' treat the Bible like any other 
book." Even in their meaning the phrase should 
have run : " like any other Sacred Book of antiquity "; 
inasmuch as critical tests and methods are called 
for in the scrutiny of such books which do not 
apply in the case of others. But inasmuch, further, 
as the Christian Sacred Books form a problem by 
themselves, a kind of scrutiny which in the case of 
other books of cult-history might substantially 
reveal all the facts may here easily fail to do so. 

The unsuspecting student, coming to a narrative 
in which supernatural details are mingled with 
'* natural," decides simply to reject the former and 
take as history what is left. It is the method of 
the amateur mythologists of ancient Greece, derided 
by Socrates, and chronically resuscitated in all ages 
by men seeking short cuts to certitude where they 
have no right to any. If the narrative of the Trial 



xiv PEEAMBLE 



and Crucifixion, thus handled, is found to be still 
incredible in point of time-arrangement, the adaptor 
meets the difficulty by reducing the time-arrange- 
ment to probability and presenting the twice redacted 
result as ** incontestable " history. All this, as will 
be shown in the following pages, is merely a begging 
of the question. A scientific analysis points to a 
quite different solution, which the naif " historical " 
student has never considered. 

He is still kept in countenance, it is true, by 
** specialists " of the highest standing. The average 
** liberal " theologian still employs the explanatory 
method of Toland ; and anthropologists still offer 
him support. Thus Sir James Frazer, by far the 
most learned collector of mytho-anthropological lore 
in his age, positively refuses to apply to the history 
of the Christian cult his own express rule of mytho- 
logy — formulated before him^ but independently 
reiterated by him — that " all peoples have invented 
myths to explain why they observed certain 
customs," and that a graphic myth to explain a rite 
is presumptively " a simple transcript of a cere- 
mony"; which is the equivalent of the doctrine of 
Kobertson Smith, that " in almost every case the 
myth was derived from the ritual, and not the 
ritual from the myth," and of the doctrine of 
K. 0. Miiller that " the my thus sprang from the 

* See Christia7iity and Mythology, 2nd ed. p. 179, note. 



PEEAMBLE xv 



worship, and not the worship from the my thus." 
What justification Sir James can give for his refusal 
to act on his own principles is of course a matter 
for full and careful consideration. But at least the 
fact that he has to justify the refusal to apply in a 
most important case one of the best-established 
generalizations of comparative mythology is not in 
this case a recommendation of the principle of 
authority to scientific readers. 

General phrases, then, as to how religions must 
have originated in the personal impression made 
by a Founder are not only unscientific presupposi- 
tions but are flatly contradictory, in this connection, 
of a rule scientifically reached in the disinterested 
study of ancient hierology in general. 

It is a delusion, again, to suppose, as do some 
scholarly men, that there is such a consensus of 
view among New Testament scholars as to put out 
of court any theory that cancels the* traditionalist 
assumption of historicity which is the one position 
that most of them have in common. As we shall 
see, the latest expert scholarship, professionally 
recognized as such, makes a clean sweep of their 
whole work ; but they themselves, by their in- 
soluble divisions, had already discredited it. Any 
careful collection of their views will show that the 
innumerable and vital divergences of principle and 
method of the various schools, and their constant 



xvi PEEAMBLE 



and emphatic disparagement of each other's con- 
clusions, point rather to the need for a radically 
different theory and method. A theory, therefore, 
which cancels their conflicts by showing that all the 
data are reducible to order only when their primary 
assumption is abandoned, is entitled to the open- 
minded attention of men who profess loyalty to the 
spirit of science. 

There is need, thirdly, to bring home even to 
many readers who profess such loyalty, the need 
for a really critical study of the Gospels. I have 
been blamed by some critics because, having found 
that sixty years' work on the documents by New 
Testament scholars yielded no clear light on the 
problem of origins, I chose to approach that by 
way (1) of mythology, (2) of extra-evangelical 
literature and sect-history, and (3) of anthropology. 
The question of the order and composition of the 
Gospels, in the view of these critics, should be 
the first stage in the inquiry. 

Now, for the main purposes of the myth-theory, 
the results reached by such an investigator as 
Professor Schmiedel were quite sufficient; and 
though at many points textual questions had to 
ba considered, it seemed really not worth while to 
discuss in detail the quasi-historical results claimed 
by the exegetes; But it has become apparent that a 
number of readers who claim to be '* emancipated " 



PKEAMBLE xvii 



have let themselves be put off with descriptions of 
the Gospel-history when they ought to have read it 
attentively for themselves. A confident traditionalist, 
dealt with hereinafter, writes of the '* pretentious 
futilities into which we so readily drop when we 
talk about them [the Gospels] instead of reading 
them." The justice of the observation is uncon- 
sciously but abundantly illustrated by himself ; and 
he certainly proves the need for inducing professed 
students to read with their eyes open. 

Early in 1914 there was published a work on 
The Historical Christ, by Dr. F. C. Conybeare, 
in which, as against the myth hypothesis, which he 
vituperatively assailed, a simple perusal of the Gospel 
of Mark (procurable, as he pointed out, for one 
penny) was confidently prescribed as the decisive 
antidote to all doubts of the historicity of the 
central figure. The positions put were the con- 
ventional ones of the *' liberal" school. No note 
was taken of the later professional criticism which, 
without accepting the myth-theory, shatters the 
whole fabric of current historicity doctrine. But 
that is relatively a small matter. In the course 
of his treatise, Dr. Conybeare asserted three times 
over, with further embellishments, that in the 
Gospel of Mark Jesus is " presented quite naturally 
as the son of Joseph and his wife Mary, and we 
learn quite incidentally the names of his brothers 



xviii PEEAMBLE 



and sisters." Dr. Conybeare's printers' proofs, he 
stated, had been read for him by Professor A. C. 
Clark. I saw, I think, fully twenty newspaper 
notices of the book; and in not a single one was 
there any recognition of the gross and thrice- 
repeated blunder above italicized, to modify the 
chorus of uncritical assent. A professed Kationalist 
repeated and endorsed Dr. Conybeare's assertion. 
Needless to say, not only did Dr. Conybeare not 
mention that Joseph is never named in Mark, he 
never once alluded to the fact that in the same 
Gospel Mary is presented as not the mother of 
Jesus ; and the brothers and sisters, by implication, 
as oiot his brothers and sisters. 

When aggressive scholars and confident reviewers 
thus alike reveal that they have not read the Gospels 
with the amount of attention supposed to be be- 
stowed on them by an intelligent Sunday-school 
teacher, it is evidently inadvisable to take for 
granted any general critical preparation even among 
rationalistic readers. Before men can realize the 
need for a new theoretic interpretation of the whole, 
they must be invited to note the vital incongruities 
(as apart from miracle stories) in each Gospel singly, 
as the lay Freethinkers of an earlier generation did 
without pretending to be scholars. 

Those Eationalists are ill-advised who suppose that, 
in virtue of having listened to latter-day publicists 



PEEAMBLE xix 



who profess to extract a non-supernatural " religion " 
from the supernaturalisms of the past, they have 
reached a higher and truer standpoint than that 
of the men who made sheer truth their standard 
and their ideal. Eeally scholarly and scrupulous 
advocates of theism are as zealous to expose the 
historical truth as the men who put that first and 
foremost; it is the ethical sentimentalists who put 
the question of historic truth on one side. The 
fact that some men of scientific training in other 
fields join at times in such complacent constructions 
does not alter the fact that they are non-scientific. 
The personal equation even of a man of science 
is not science. On these as on other sides of the 
intellectual life, '* opinion of store is cause of want," 
as Bacon has it. 

Some of us who in our teens critically read the 
sacred books first and foremost to clear our minds 
on the general question of supernaturalism, and 
then proceeded to try, with the help of the docu- 
mentary scholars, to trace the history of religion as 
matter of anthropology and sociology, had the expe- 
rience of being told by Professor Huxley, whose 
own work we had followed, that we were still at 
the standpoint of Voltaire. Later we had the 
edification of seeing Huxley expatiate upon topics 
which had long been stale for Secularist audiences, 
and laboriously impugn the story of the Flood and 



XX PEEAMBLB 



the miracle of the Gadarene swine in discursive 
debate with Gladstone, even making scientific 
mistakes in the former connection. 

In view of it all, it seems still a sound discipline 
to treat all opinions as for ever open to revision, 
and at the same time to doubt whether the accep- 
tance of any popular formula will place us in a 
position to disparage unreservedly all our critical 
predecessors. If we find reason to dismiss as 
inadequate the conclusions of many scholars of the 
past, orthodox and heterodox, we are not thereby 
entitled to speak of the best of them otherwise than 
as powerful minds and strenuous toilers, hampered 
by some of their erroneous assumptions in the task 
of relieving their fellows of the burden of others. 

It is precisely the habituation of the professional 
scholars to working in a special groove that has so 
retarded the progress of New Testament criticism. 
The re-discussion of the historicity question that 
has followed upon the modern exposition of the 
myth-theory has involved the reiteration by the 
historicity school of a set of elementary claims from 
the long-discredited interpolation in Josephus and 
the pagan *' testimonies " of Suetonius and Tacitus ; 
and Professor W. B. Smith has had to meet these 
with a detailed rebuttal such as used to be made — 
of course with less care and fullness — on the ordinary 
English Secularist platform forty or even seventy 



PEEAMBLE xxi 



years ago. Less advanced scholars once more begin 
to recognize the nulhty of the argument from the 
famous passage in the Annals of Tacitus/ which 
was clear to so many unpretending freethinkers in 
the past ; and to other Gelehrten vom Fach it has 
to be again pointed out that the impulsore Chresto 
of Suetonius, so far from testifying to the presence 
of a Christian multitude at Rome under Nero — a 
thing so incompatible with their own records — is 
rather a datum for the myth-theory, inasmuch as 
it posits a cult of a Chrestos or Christos out of all 
connection with the " Christian " movement. 

The passage in Josephus was given up long ago 
by hundreds of orthodox scholars as a palpable 
interpolation, proved as such by the total silence in 
regard to it of early Fathers who would have 
rejoiced to cite it if it had been in existence. The 
device of supposing it to be a Christian modification 
of a different testimony by Josephus is a resort of 
despair, which evades altogether the fact of the 
rupture of context made by the passage — a feature 
only less salient in the paragraph of Tacitus. But 
even if there were no reason to suspect the latter item 
of being a late echo from Sulpicius Severus, who 

* That is, even supposing the Annals to be genuine. Professor 
W. B. Smith speaks of a contention "of late" that they are forged 
by Poggio Bracciolini, but refers only to the work of Ross, 1878. 
The thesis has been far more efficiently maintained in a series of 
works by Hochart (1890, etc), which are worth Professor Smith's 
attention. 



xxii PREAMBLE 



is assumed to have copied it, nothing can be proved 
from it for the historicity of the Gospel Jesus, inas- 
much as it does but set forth from a hostile stand- 
point the ordinary Christian account of the begin- 
nings of the cult. Those who at this time of day 
found upon such data are further from an apprecia- 
tion of the evidential problem than were their 
orthodox predecessors who debated the issue with 
Freethinkers half a century ago. 

I have thought it well, then, to precede a re- 
statement of the ''myth-theory" with a critical 
survey in which a number of preliminary questions 
of scientific method and critical ethic are pressed 
upon those who would deal with the main problem 
aright ; and a certain amount of controversy with 
other critical schools is indulged in by way of 
making plain the radical weakness of all the conven- 
tional positions. The negative criticism, certainly, 
will not establish in advance the positive theory : 
that must meet the ordeal of criticism like every 
other. But the preliminary discussion may at once 
serve to free from waste polemic the constructive 
argument and guard readers against bringing to 
that a delusive light from false assumptions. 

A recent and more notorious exhibition of 
** critical method " by Dr. Conybeare has satisfied 
me that it is needless to offer any further systematic 
exposure of the nullity of his treatise, with which 



PEEAMBLE xxiii 



I had dealt at some length in The Literary 
Guide. His memorable attack upon the Foreign 
Secretary, and his still more memorable retractation, 
may enable some of his laudatory reviewers to 
realize the kind of temper and the kind of scrutiny 
he brings to bear upon documents and theories that 
kindle his passions. All that was relevant in his 
constructive process was really extracted, with mis- 
conceptions and blunders and exaggerations, from 
the works of a few scholars of standing who, how- 
ever inconclusive their work might be, set him a 
controversial example which he was unable to 
follow. In dealing with them, I have the relief of 
no longer dealing with him. As to the constructive 
argument from comparative mythology, anthro- 
pology, and hierology, attacked by him and others 
with apparently no grasp of the principles of any 
of these sciences, objections may be best dealt with 
incidentally where they arise in the restatement of 
the case. 

For the rest, I can conceive that some will say 
the second year of the World War is no time for 
the discussion even of a great problem of religious 
history. I answer that the War has actually been 
made the pretext for endless religious discussions of 
the most futile kind, ranging between medieval 
miracle-mongering and the lowest forms of journal- 
istic charlatanism, with chronic debates on theism 



XXIV l^BEAMBLEl 



and on the military value of faith and prayer. The 
nev^spaper discussions on theism, in particular, 
reveal a degree of philosophic naivete on the theistic 
side w^hich seems to indicate that that view of the 
universe has of late years been abandoned by most 
men capable of understanding the logical problem. 
When dispute plays thus uselessly at the bidding of 
emotion there must be some seniors, or others vy^ith- 
held from war service, who in workless hours would 
as lief face soberly an inquiry which digs towards 
the roots of the organized religion of Europe. If 
the end of the search should be the conviction that 
that system took shape as naturally as any other 
cult of the ancient world, and that the sacro- 
sanct records of its origin are but products of the 
mythopoeic faculty of man, the time of war, with 
its soul-shaking challenge to the sense of reality, 
may not be the most unfit for the experience. 



THE HISTOEICAL JESUS 



Chapter I 

THE SNAEE OF PEE SUPPOSITION 

He who would approach with an alert mind such 
a question as that of the historic actuality of the 
Gospel Jesus would do well to weigh a preliminary 
warning. Though after four hundred years of 
chronic scientific discovery all men are supposed 
to know the intellectual danger of a confident and 
foregone rejection of new theories, it is scarcely 
likely that the vogue of such error is at an end. 
After all, apart from the special experience in 
question, and from the general effect of the spread 
of " science," the average psychosis of men is not 
profoundly different from what it was in the two 
centuries which passed before the doctrines of 
Copernicus found general acceptance. Not many 
modern novelties of thought can so reasonably be 
met with derision as was the proposition that the 
earth moves round the sun. 

Let the ingenuous reader try to make the suppo- 
sition that he had been brought up in ignorance of 
that truth, and without any training in astronomy, 
and that in adolescence or mature years it had been 

1 



THE HISTOEIGAL JESUS 



casually put to him as a non-authoritative sugges- 
tion. Would he have been quick to surmise that 
the paradox might be truth ? Let him next try to 
imagine that he had been educated by an eccentric 
guardian in the Ptolemaic creed, which accounted 
so plausibly for so many solar and stellar phenomena, 
and that until middle life he had been kept unaware 
of the Copernican heresy. Can he be sure that, 
meeting it not as an accredited doctrine but as a 
novel hypothesis, he would have been prompt to 
recognize that it was the better solution ? If he 
ca.n readily say Yes, I know not whether his con- 
fidence is enviable or otherwise. Eeading in 
Sylvester's translation of the Divine Weeks of Du 
Bartas, which had such vogue in the days of 
James VI, the confident derision and " confutation " 
of the heliocentric theory, I really cannot be sure 
that had I lived in those days I should have gone 
right where Bacon went wrong. 

To a mere historical student, not conscious of 
any original insight into the problems of nature, 
there ought to be something chastening in the 
recollection that every great advance in the human 
grasp of them has been hotly or hilariously denounced 
and derided ; and that not merely by the average 
ignoramus, but by the mass of the experts. It was 
not the peasants of Italy who refused to look through 
Galileo's telescope — they were not invited to; it 
was the academics, deep in Aristotle. It was not 
the laity who distinguished themselves by rejecting 
Harvey's discovery of the circulation of the blood ; 
it was all the doctors above forty then living, if we 



THE SNARE OF PRESUPPOSITION 3 

can believe a professional saying. And it was not 
merely the humdrum Bible-readers who scouted 
geology for generations, or who laughed consumedly 
for decades over the announcement that Darwin 
made out men to be " descended from monkeys." 
That theory, as it happened, had been unscientifically 
enough propounded long before Darwin ; and, albeit 
not grounded upon any such scientific research as 
served to establish the Darwinian theory in a 
generation, yet happened to be considerably nearer 
rationality than the Semitic myth which figured 
for instructed Christendom as the absolute and 
divinely revealed truth on the subject. A recollec- 
tion of the hate and fury with which geologists like 
Hugh Miller repelled the plain lesson of their own 
science when it was shown to clash with the sacred 
myth, and a memory of the roar of derision and 
disgust which met Darwin, should set reasonable 
men on their guard when they find themselves 
faced by propositions which can hardly seem more 
monstrous to this generation than those others did 
to our fathers and grandfathers. 

It is difficult, again, without suggesting contempt 
of that scholarship which as concerning historical 
problems is the equivalent of experimental research 
in science, to insist aright upon the blinding tendency 
of pure scholarship in the face of a radically inno- 
vating doctrine. Without scholarly survey no such 
doctrine can maintain itself. Yet it is one of the 
commonest of experiences to find the accredited 
scholars among the last to give an intelligent hear- 
ing to a new truth. Only for a very few was skill 



THE HISTORICAL JESUS 



in the Ptolemaic astronomy a good preparation 
towards receiving the Copernican. The errors of 
Copernicus — the inevitable errors of the pioneer — 
served for generations to establish the Ptolemaists 
in theirs. And where religious usage goes hand-in- 
hand with an error, not one man in a thousand can 
escape the clutch of the double habit. 

Hence the special blackness of the theological 
record in the history of culture. In the present 
day the hideous memory of old crimes withholds 
even the clerical class as a whole from the desire 
to employ active persecution ; but that abstention — 
forced in any case — cannot save the class from the 
special snare of the belief in the possession of fixed 
and absolute truth. Since the day when Tyndale 
was burned for translating the Sacred Books, 
English Christians have passed through a dozen 
phases of faith, from the crassest evangelicalism to 
the haziest sentimentalism, and in all alike they 
have felt, 7nutatis mutandis, the same spontaneous 
aversion to the new doctrine that disturbs the old. 
Who will say that the stern Tyndale, had he ever 
been in power, would not have made martyrs in his 
turn? The martyr Latimer had applauded the 
martyrdom of Anabaptists. The martyred Cranmer 
had assented to martyrdoms in his day, though a 
man forgiving enough in respect of his own wrongs. 
And if the educated Christians of to-day have 
reached a level at which they can recognize as old 
delusions not only the beliefs in relics and images 
and exorcisms, once all sacrosanct, but the " literal " 
acceptance of Semitic and Christian myths and 



THE SNAKE OF PEESUPPOSITION 5 

miracle-stories, to whom do they think they owe the 
deHverance ? To their accredited teachers ? Not so. 
No false belief from which men have been 
delivered since the day of Copernicus has been dis- 
missed without strenuous resistance from men of 
learning, and even from men of vigorous capacity. 
The belief in witchcraft was championed by Bodin, 
one of the most powerful minds of his day ; Glanvill, 
who sought to maintain it in England after the 
Eestoration, was a man of philosophical culture and 
a member of the Koyal Society; and he had the 
countenance of the Platonist Henry More and the 
chemist Boyle. So great a man as Leibnitz repulsed 
the cosmology of Newton on the score that it expelled 
God from the universe. It was not professional 
theologians who invented the '' higher criticism " 
of the Pentateuch, any more than they introduced 
geology. Samuel Parvish, the Guildford bookseller, 
who discovered in the days of Walpole that Deutero- 
nomy belonged to the seventh century B.C., is not 
recorded to have made any clerical converts ; and 
Astruc, the Parisian physician who began the dis- 
crimination between the Jehovistic and Elohistic 
sources in Genesis in 1753, made no school in his 
country or his time. Voltaire, no Hebraist, demon- 
strated clearly enough that the Pentateuchal tale of 
the tabernacle in the wilderness was a fiction ; but 
three toiling generations of German specialists passed 
the demonstration by, till a Zulu convert set the 
good Bishop Colenso upon applying to the legend 
the simple tests of his secular arithmetic. Then 
the experts began slowly to see the point. 



Chapter II 

MODES OF CONSERVATIVE FALLACY 

To all such reminders the present-day expert will 
reply, belike, that he does not need them. He, 
profiting by the past, can commit no such errors. 
And yet, however right the present members of the 
apostolic succession of truth-monopolists may be, 
there is an astonishing likeness in their tone and 
temper over the last heresy to that of their prede- 
cessors, down to the twentieth generation. Anger 
and bluster, boasting and scolding, snarl and sneer, 
come no less spontaneously to the tongues of the 
professional defender of the present minimum of 
creed than they did to those of the full-blooded 
breed of the ages of the maximum, or of Calvin and 
Bonner. From the defence of the *' real presence " 
of the God to that of the bare personal existence of 
the Man is a long descent ; but there is a singular 
sameness in the manner of the controversy. As 
their expert ancestors proved successively the abso- 
lute truth of the corporal presence in the wafer, or 
the humanity of the Son against those who dubbed 
him merely divine, or his divinity against those who 
pronounced him merely human, or the inerrancy of 
the Gospels against the blasphemers who pointed 
out the contradictions, or the historic certainty of 
the miracles and the Virgin Birth and the Resur- 

6 



MODES OF CONSEEVATIVE FALLA.CY 7 

rection and the Ascension against the " materiahsts " 
who put such Christian myths on a level with 
Pagan, so do the expert demonstrators of the bare 
historicity of the now undeified God establish by 
vituperation and derision, declamation and contempt, 
the supreme certainty of the minimum after all the 
supernatural certainties are gone. Even as Swiss 
patriots undertook to demonstrate ''somebody " and 
'' something " behind the legend of William Tell 
when it had ceased to be possible to burn men at the 
stake for exposing the apple-myth, so do the des- 
cendants of the demonstrators of the real presence 
now go about to make clear the real existence. 

I speak, of course, of the ruck of the vindicators, 
not of the believers ; and Professor Schmiedel and 
M. Loisy, I trust, will not suspect me of classing 
them with men many of whom are as hostile to 
them as to the thesis which those scholars seek by 
rational methods to confute. Professor Schmiedel 
has even avowed that a proof of the non-historicity 
of the Gospel Jesus would not affect his inner 
religious opinions; and such high detachment has 
been attained to by others. That civilized scholars 
credit, and might at a pinch maintain in debate, the 
historicity of the Gospel Jesus as calmly as they 
might the historicity of Lycurgus against its 
impugners, I am well aware. And to such readers, 
if I have the honour to obtain any, I address not a 
warning but an appeal. There is an attitude towards 
the problem which incurs no reproach on the score 
of tone and temper, and which will naturally recom- 
mend itself all the more to men of real culture, but 



8 THE HISTOEICAL JESUS 

which yet, I think, only illustrates in another way 
the immense difficulty of all-round intellectual 
vigilance. Let me give an example in an extract 
from a rather noteworthy pronouncement upon the 
question in hand : — 

Of Paul's divine Master no biography can ever be 
written. We have a vivid impression of an unique, 
effulgent personality. We have a considerable body 
of sayings which must be ge^iuine because they are 
far too great to have been invented by His disciples, 
and, for the rest, whatever royal robes and tributes 
of devotion the Church of A.D. 70-100 thought most 
fitting for its king. The Gospels are the creation 
of faith and love : faith and love hold the key to 
their interpretation. (Canon Inge, art. " St. Paul " 
in Quarterly Beview, Jan., 1914, p. 45.) 

I am not here concerned to ask whether the 
closing words are the expression of an orthodox 
belief; or what orthodoxy makes of the further 
proposition that " With St. Paul it is quite different. 
He is a saint without a luminous halo." The idea 
seems to be that concerning the saint without a 
nimbus we can get at the historical truth, while in 
the other case we cannot — a proposition worth 
orthodox attention. But what concerns the open- 
minded investigator is the logic of the words I have 
italicized. It is obvious that they proceed (1) on 
the assumption that what non-miraculous biography 
the Gospels give is in the main absolutely trust- 
worthy — that is to say, that the accounts of the 
disciples and the teaching are historical ; and (2) on 
the assumption that we are historically held to the 
traditional view that the Gospel sayings originated 
with the alleged Founder as they purport. It is 



MODES OF CONSERVATIVE FALLACY 9 

necessary to point out that this is not a Hcit 
historical induction. Even Canon Inge by impli- 
cation admits that not all the Gospel sayings have 
the quality which he regards as certifying authen- 
ticity ; and on no reasonable ground can he claim 
that the others must have been '' invented by the 
disciples." The alternative is spurious. No one is 
in a position to deny that any given saying may 
have been invented by non-disciples. In point of 
fact, many professional theologians are agreed in 
tracing to outside sources some tolerably fine 
passages, such as the address to Jerusalem (Mt. xxiii, 
37; Lk. xiii, 34). The critics in question do not 
ascribe that deliverance to inventive disciples ; they 
infer it to have been a non-Christian document. 
Many other critics, again, now pronounce the whole 
Sermon on the Mount — regarded by Baur as signally 
genuine — a compilation from earlier Hebrew litera- 
ture, Biblical and other. Which then are the 
"great" sayings that could not be thus accounted 
for ? Without specification there can be no rational 
discussion of the problem ; and even the proposition 
about the exegetic function of " faith and love " 
affects to be in itself rational. 

The plain truth would seem to be that Canon 
Inge has formed for himself no tenable critical 
position. He has merely reiterated the fallacy of 
Mill, who in his Three Essays on Beligion (pp. 253- 
54) wrote : — 

Whatever else may be taken away from us by 
rational criticism, Christ is still left ; a unique 
figure, not more unlike all his precursors than all 



10 THE HISTORICAL JESUS 

his followers, even those who had the direct benefit 
of his personal teaching. It is of no use to say that 
Christ as exhibited in the Gospels is not historical, 
and that we know not how much of what is admir- 
able has been superadded by the tradition of his 
followers. The tradition of followers suffices to 
insert any number of marvels, and may have inserted 
all the miracles which he is reputed to have wrought. 
But who among his disciples or among their proselytes 
was capable of inventing the sayings ascribed to 
Jesus, or of imagining the life and character revealed 
in the Gospels? Certainly not the fishermen of 
Galilee ; as certainly not St. Paul, whose character 
and idiosyncrasies were of a totally different sort ; 
still less the early Christian writers, in whom nothing 
is more evident than that the good which was in 
them was all derived, as they always professed that 
it w^as derived, from the higher source. What could 
be added and interpolated by a disciple we may see 
in the mystical parts of St. John, matter imported 
from Philo and the Alexandrian Platonists and put 
into the mouth of the Saviour in long speeches 
about himself such as the other Gospels contain 
not the slightest vestige of, though pretended to 
have been delivered on occasions of the deepest 
interest and when his principal follow^ers were all 
present ; most prominently at the last supper. The 
East was full of men who could have stolen (!) any 
quantity of this poor stuff, as the multitudinous 
Oriental sects of Gnostics afterwards did. But 
about the life and sayings of Jesus there is a stamp 
of personal originality combined with profundity of 
insight which, if we abandon the idle expectation of 
finding scientific precision where something very 
different was aimed at, must place the Prophet of 
Nazareth, even in the estimation of those who have 
no behef in his inspiration, in the very first rank of 
men of sublime genius of whom our species can 
boast. When this pre-eminent genius is combined 
with the qualities of probably the greatest moral 



MODES OF CONSEEVATIVE FALLACY 11 

reformer, and martyr to that mission, who ever 
existed on earth, religion [sic] cannot be said to 
have made a bad choice in pitching on this man as 

the ideal representative and guide of humanity 

Add that, to the conception of the rational sceptic, 
it remains a possibihty that Christ actually v^as 
what he supposed himself to be — not God, for he 
never made the smallest pretension to that character, 
and would probably have thought such a pretension 
as blasphemous as it seemed to the men who con- 
demned him — but a man charged with a special, 
express, and unique commission from God to lead 
mankind to truth and virtue 

Ei7i historisclier Kopf hatte er nicht, is a German 
economist's criticism of Mill which I fear will have 
to stand in other fields than that of economics. 
The man who wrote this unmeasured dithyramb 
can never have read the Gospels and the Hebrew 
books with critical attention; and can never have 
reflected critically upon his own words in this con- 
nection. The assumption that *' the fishermen of 
Galilee " could not have attained to thoughts which 
are expressly alleged to have been put forth by an 
untaught carpenter of Galilee is on the face of it a 
flight of thoughtless declamation. Had Mill ever 
critically read the Old Testament and the Apocrypha, 
he must have been aware that the main precepts 
of the Sermon on the Mount, which are presumably 
among the unspecified objects of his panegyric, 
were all there beforehand. Had he taken the 
trouble to investigate before writing, he could have 
found in Hennell's Inquiry (1838), which popu- 
larized the old research of Schoettgen; in Nork's 
Bahbinische Quellen und Parallelen (1839) ; and in 



12 THE HISTORICAL JESUS 

Les Origijies du Serinon de la Montague by Hippo- 
lyte Kodrigues (1868), a copious demonstration of 
the Jewish currency of every moral idea in the 
Christian document, often in saner forms. And he 
ought to have known from his own reading that 
the doctrine of forgiveness for injuries, which 
appears to be the main ground for the customary 
panegyric of the Sermon, was common to Greeks 
and Komans before the Gospels were compiled. 
From the duty of giving alms freely — which is 
repeatedly laid down in the Old Testament — to 
that of the sin of concupiscence and the wrongness 
of divorce for trivial causes, every moral idea in the 
Sermon had been formulated alike by Jews and 
Gentiles beforehand.^ And if it be argued that the 
compilation of such a set of precepts with a number 
of religious dicta (equally current in non-Christian 
Jewry) is evidence of a special ethical or religious 
gift in the compiler, the answer is that precisely 
the fact of such a compilation is the disproof of the 
assertion in the Gospels that the whole was delivered 
as a sermon on a mountain. A sermon it never 
was and never could be ; and if the compiler was 
a man of unique character and qaalification he was 
not the Gospel Jesus but the very type of which 
Mill denied the possibility ! 

That the Gospel ethic is non-original becomes 
more and more clear with every extension of rele- 
vant research. The Testaments of the Twelve 



^ See the collection of illustrations in Mr. Joseph McCabe's 
Sources of the Morality of the Gospels (R. P. A., 1914), and his 
excellent chapter on " The Parables of the Gospel and the Talmud." 



MODES OF CONSEEVATIVE FALLACY 13 

Patriarchs, written between 109 and 106 B.C. by 
a Quietist Pharisee, is found to yield not only 
origins or anticipations for pseudo-historic data in 
the Gospels but patterns for its moral doctrine. 
Thus the notion that the Twelve Apostles are to 
rule over the tribes in the Messianic kingdom is 
merely an adaptation of the teaching in the Testa- 
ments that the twelve sons of Jacob are so to rule.^ 
There too appears for the first time in Jewish 
literature the formula " on His right hand ";^ and a 
multitude of close textual parallels clearly testify 
to perusal of the book by the Gospel-framers and 
the epistle-makers. But above all is the Jewish 
book the original for the doctrines of forgiveness 
and brotherly love. Whereas the Old Testament 
leaves standing the ethic of revenge alongside of the 
prescription to forgive one's enemy, the Testaments 
give out what a highly competent Christian editor 
pronounces to be '' the most remarkable statement 
on the subject of forgiveness in all ancient literature. 
They show a wonderful insight into the true psycho- 
logy of the question. So perfect are the parallels 
in thought and diction between these verses \_Test. 
Gad, vi, 3-7] and Luke xvii, 3 ; Matt, xviii, 15, 35, 
that we must assume our Lord's acquaintance loitli 
them. The meaning of forgiveness in both cases is 
the highest and noblest known to us — namely, the 
restoring the offender to communion with us, which 

he had forfeited through his offence We now 

see the importance of our text. It shows that pre- 

* The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, ed. by R. H. Charles, 
1908, pp. Ixxx, 97, 122, 213, 214. ^ Id. pp. Ixxxi, 213. 



14 THE HISTOEICAL JESUS 

Christian Judaism possessed a noble system of 
ethics on the subject of forgiveness." ^ 

Here the tribute goes to a Pharisee ; in another 
connection it redounds to the other butt of Christian 
disparagement, the Scribes. As our editor points 
out, the collocation of the commands to love God 
and one's neighbour is even in Luke (x, 25-27) 
assigned not to Jesus but to a Scribe. But this 
too is found in the Testaments. '' That the tv^o 
great commandments were already conjoined in the 
teaching of the Scribes at the time of our Lord we 
may reasonably infer from our text,^ which was 
written 140 years earlier, and from the account in 
Luke." ^ And here too, a century before the Chris- 
tian era, we have a Jewish predication of the salva- 
tion of the Gentiles,'' in the patronizing Jewish sense. 

It is only for men partly hypnotized by sectarian 
creed that there can be anything surprising in these 
anticipations. The notion that Sacred Books contain 
the highest and rarest thought of their respective 
periods is a delusion that any critical examination 
of probabilities will destroy. Relatively high and 
rare thought does 7iot find its way into Sacred 
Books ; what these present is but the thought that 
is perceptible and acceptable to the majority, or a 
strong minority, of the better people ; and it is never 
purified of grave imperfection, precisely because these 
never are. Perfect ethic is the possession of the 
perfect people, an extremely rare species. The 



^ Id. pp. xciii -xciv. 

^ Id. Test. Iss. V, 2 ; Dan. v, 3 ; Iss. vii, 6. 

8 Id» p. xcv. *■ Id. p. 210 sq. 



MODES OF CONSEEVATIVE FALLACY 15 

ethic of the Testaments, which is an obvious 
improvement on that of average Jewry, is in turn 
imperfect enough ; even as that of the Gospels 
remains stamped with Jewish particularism, and is 
irretrievably blemished by the grotesquely iniquitous 
doctrine of damnation for non-belief. 

Such asseverations as Mill's, constantly repeated 
as they are by educated men, are simply expressions 
of failure to comprehend the nature and the possi- 
bilities of life, of civilization, of history. The thesis 
is that in a world containing no one else capable of 
elevated thought, moral or religious, there suddenly 
appeared a marvellously inspired teacher, who chose 
a dozen disciples incapable of comprehending his 
doctrine, and during the space of one or many years 
— no one can settle whether one or two or three 
or four or ten or twenty — went about alternately 
working miracles and delivering moral and religious 
sayings (including a doctrine of eternal hell-fire for 
the unrepentant wicked, among whom were included 
all who refused to accept the new teaching) ; and 
that after the execution of the teacher on a charge 
of blasphemy or sedition the world found itself in 
possession of a supernormal moral and religious 
code, which constituted the greatest '' moral reform " 
in the world's history. The very conception is a 
chimera. In a world in which no one could inde- 
pendently think the teacher's moral thoughts there 
could be no acceptance of them. If the code was 
pronounced good, it was so pronounced in terms of 
the moral nature and moral convictions of those 
who made the pronouncement. The very propa- 



16 THE HISTOEICAL JESUS 



gandists of the creed after a few generations were 
found meeting gainsayers with the formula anwia 
naturaliter Christiana. 

Christianity made its way precisely because (1) it 
^oas a construction from current moral and religious 
material ; and because (2) it adopted a system of 
economic organization already tested by Jews and 
Gentiles ; and (3) because its doctrines were ascribed 
to a God, not to a man. Anything like a moral 
renovation of the world it never effected ; that con- 
ception is a chimera of chimeras. While Mill, the 
amateur in matters of religious research, who 
'' scarcely ever read a theological book," ^ ascribed to 
Christian morality a unique and original quality, 
Newman, the essentially religious man, deliberately 
affirmed with the Kationalists that " There is little 
in the ethics of Christianity which the human mind 
may not reach by its natural powers, and which 

here or there has not in fact been anticipated."^ 

And Baur, who gave his life and his whole powers 
to the problem which Mill assumed to dispose of by 
a dithyramb, put in a sentence the historic truth 
which Mill so completely failed to grasp : — 

How soon would everything true and important 
that was taught by Christianity have been relegated 
to the order of the long-faded sayings of the noble 
humanitarians and thinking sages of antiquity, had 
not its teachings become words of eternal life in the 
mouth of its Founder ! ^ 

1 Bain, J. S. Mill, p. 139. 

^ Letter to W. S. Lilly, cited in his Claims of Christianity, 1894, 
pp. 30-31. 

^ Das Christenthum in die drei ersten Jahrhunderte, 1853, 

pp. 35-36. (Eng. trans, i, 38.) 



MODES OF CONSERVATIVE FALLACY 17 

And a distinguished Scottish theologian and 
scholar has laid it down that 

there is probably not a single moral precept in the 
Christian Scriptures which is not substantially also 
in the Chinese classics. There is certainly not an 
important principle in Bishop Butler's ethical teach- 
ings which had not been explicitly set forth by 
Mencius in the fourth century B.C. The Chinese 
thinker of that date had anticipated the entire moral 
theory of man's constitution expounded so long 
afterwards by the most famous of English moral 
philosophers.^ 



1 Prof. Flint in " St. Giles Lectures " on " The Faiths of the 
World," 1882, p. 419. 



Chapter III 

ILLUSIONS AS TO GOSPEL ETHIC 

Strictly speaking, the whole problem of the moral 
value and the historical effects of Christianity lies 
outside the present issue ; but we are forced to face 
it when the question of the truth of its historic 
basis is dismissed by a professed logician with a 
rhetorical thesis to the effect that " religion cannot 
be said to have made a bad choice in pitching on " 
the personality of which he is challenged to prove 
the historicity. Mill answers the challenge by 
begging the question ; and where he was capable 
of such a course multitudes, lay and clerical, will 
long continue to be so. For Mill the problem was 
something extraneous to his whole way of thought. 
Broadly speaking, he never handled a historical 
problem, properly so called. Other defenders of the 
historicity of Jesus, in turn, charge a want of 
historic sense upon all who venture to put the 
hypothesis that the Gospel Jesus is a mythical 
creation. The charge has been repeatedly made by 
men who can make no pretence of having ever 
independently elucidated any historical problem ; 
and in one notable case, that of Dr. J. Estlin 
Carpenter, it is made by a scholar who has com- 
mitted himself to the assertion of the historicity of 
Krishna. Such resorts to blank asseveration in such 

18 



ILLUSIONS AS TO GOSPEL ETHIC 19 

matters are on all fours with the blank asseveration 
that the Gospel Jesus, in virtue of the teachings 
ascribed to him, is a figure too sublime for human 
invention. 

The slightest reflection might obtrude the thought 
that it is precisely the invented figure that can most 
easily be made quasi-sublime. Is it pretended that 
Yahweh is not sublime ? Is the Book of Job 
pretended to be historical ? The Gospel Jesus is 
never shov^n to us save in a series of statuesque 
presentments, heahng, preaching, prophesying, 
blessing, denouncing, suffering ; he is expressly 
detached from domestic relationships ; of his life 
apart from his Messianic career there is not a 
vestige of trace that is not nakedly mythical ; of 
his mental processes there is not an attempt at 
explanation save in glosses often palpably incom- 
petent ; and of his plan or purpose, his hopes or 
expectations, no exegete has ever framed a non- 
theological theory that will stand an hour's examina- 
tion. Those who claim as an evidence of uniqueness 
the fact that he is never accused by the evangelists 
of any wrong act do but prove their unpreparedness 
to debate any of the problems involved. A figure 
presented as divine, in a document that aims at 
establishing a cult, is ipso facto denuded of errancy 
so far as the judgment of the framers of the picture 
can carry them. But all that the framers and 
redactors of the Gospels could achieve was to out- 
line a figure answering to their standards of perfec- 
tion, free of what they regarded as sin or error. 
Going to work in an age and an environment in 



20 THE HISTORICAL JESUS 

which ascetic principles were commonly posited as 
against normal practice, they guard the God from 
every suggestion of carnal appetite ; and the dialec- 
ticians of faith childishly ask us to contrast him 
with ancient Pagan deities whose legends are the 
unsifted survivals of savage folklore. As if any new 
Sacred Book in the same age would not have pro- 
ceeded on the same standards ; and as if the religious 
Jewish literature of the age of Christian beginnings 
were not as ascetic as the other. But inasmuch as 
the compilers of the Gospels could not transcend 
the moral standard of their time, they constantly 
obtrude its limitations and its blemishes. Had 
Mill attempted anything beyond his dithyramb, he 
would have been hard put to it to apply his ecstatic 
epithets to such teachings as these : — 

Eepent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. 

Till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or tittle 
shall in no wise pass away from the law [of Moses] . 

Whosover shall say. Thou fool, shall be in danger 
of the hell of fire. [Compare Matt, xxiii, 17 : " Ye 
fools and blind "; and Luke xii, 20 : " Thou fool, this 
night thy soul shall be required of thee."] 

Whosoever shall marry her [the woman divorced 
without good cause] shall commit adultery. 

Give to him that asketh thee. 

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon the 
earth. Seek ye first [God's] kingdom and his 
righteousness ; and all these things [that were to 
be disregarded] shall be added unto you. 

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in 
sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves. 
[Compare the warning against saying, Thou fool.] 

Go not into any way of the Gentiles, and enter 
not into any city of the Samaritans. 

Whosoever shall not receive you, as ye go 



ILLUSIONS AS TO GOSPEL ETHIC 21 

forth out of that house or that city, shake off the 
dust of your feet. Verily I say unto you, it shall 
be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and 
Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that 
city. 

I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves. 

Think not that I come to send peace on the 

earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword 

He that loveth father or mother more than me is not 
worthy of me. 

It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in 
the day of judgment than for you [Chorazin and 
Bethsaida; because of non-acceptance of the teacher] . 

It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom 

in the day of judgment than for you. 

Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall 
give account thereof in the day of judgment. 

Therefore speak I to them in parables, because 
seeing they see not, and hearing they hear not, 
neither do they understand. 

In the end of the world the angels shall sever 

the wicked from the righteous, and shall cast them 
into the furnace of fire. 

In vain do they worship me, teaching as their 
doctrines the precepts of men. 

Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with 
mine own ? [retort for the employer who pays the 
same for a day's work and for an hour's] . 

If ye have faith and doubt not even if ye shall 

say unto this mountain. Be thou taken up and cast 
into the sea, it shall be done. 

And his lord commended the unrighteous steward 

because he had done wisely And I say unto you, 

Makei to yourselves friends by means of the mammon 
of unrighteousness ; that, when it shall fail, they 
may receive you into the eternal tabernacles. 

I say unto you that unto everyone that hath shall 
be given ; but from him that hath not shall be taken 
away even that which he hath. 

And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the 



22 THE HISTOEICAL JESUS 

tormentors So also shall my heavenly Father do 

unto you, if ye forgive not everyone his brother from 
your hearts. 

When such a mass of unmanageable doctrines is 
forced on the notice of the dithyrambists, there 
promptly begins a process of elimination — the 
method of Arnold, to which Mill would doubtless 
have subscribed, denying as he did that Jesus ever 
claimed to be the Son of God. Whatever is not 
sweetly reasonable in the Gospels, said Arnold, 
cannot be the word of Jesus ; let us then pick and 
choose as we will. And justly enough may it be 
argued that we have been listening to different 
voices. It cannot be the same man who prohibited 
all anger, vetoing even the use of '' Thou fool," and 
then proceeded to vituperate Scribes and Pharisees 
in the mass as sons of hell ; to curse a barren tree ; 
and to call the erring '' Ye fools and blind " — any 
more than it was the same man who said, " I am 
meek and lowly in heart," and *'A greater than 
Solomon is here," or annulled precepts of the law 
after declaring that not a jot or tittle of it should 
pass away. But with what semblance of critical 
righteousness shall it be pretended that in a com- 
pilation thus palpably composite it was the teacher 
who said all the right things and others who said 
all the wrong, when as a matter of documentary 
fact the better sayings can all be paralleled in older 
or contemporary writings ? That challenge is never 
so much as faced by the dithyrambists ; to face it 
honestly would be the beginning of their end. 

Some seem prepared to stake all on sucH a teach- 



ILLUSIONS AS TO GOSPEL ETHIC 23 

ing as the parable of the Good Samaritan, which 
actually teaches that a man of the religiously 
despised race could humanely succour one of the 
despising race when religious men of the same race 
passed him by. Is the parable then assimilated by 
those who stress it ? Can they conceive that a 
Samaritan could so act ? If yes, why cannot they 
conceive that a Samaritan, or another Jew than 
one, could put forth such a doctrine? Here is a 
story of actual human-kindness, paralleled in a 
hundred tales and romances of later times, a story 
which, appealing as it does to every reader, may 
reasonably be believed to have been enacted a 
thousand times by simple human beings who never 
heard of the Gospels. Yet we are asked to believe 
that only one Jewish or Gentile mind in the age 
of Virgil was capable of drawing the moral that the 
kindly and helpful soul is the true neighbour, and 
that the good man will be neighbourly to all ; so 
rebuking the tribalism of the average Jew. 

When, fifteen years ago, I wrote of " the moderate 
ethical height of the parable of the Good Samaritan, 
which is partly precedented in Old Testament 
teaching [Deut. xxiii, 7 — an interpolation ; cp. the 
Book of Euth]," Dr. J. E. Carpenter indignantly 
replied : *' The field of Greek literature is open ; 
will Mr. Eobertson take the Good Samaritan and 
from Plato to Plotinus find his match ? " And the 
Eev. Thomas James Thorburn, D.D., LL.D., in his 
later work Jesus the Chbist : Histoeical oe 
Mythical? (1912), wrote (p. 68) :— 

Dr. Bstlin Carpenter has invited (we believe, in 



24 THE HISTOEICAL JESUS 

vain !) Mr. Eobertson to produce an equal to this 
same parable out of the whole range of Greek 
literature, which undoubtedly contains the choicest 
teaching of the ancient world. 

Dr. Thorburn in his bibliography cited the first 
and second (1912) editions of Pagan Christs ; he 
thoughtfully omitted, in launching his *' we believe, 
in vain ! ", to ascertain whether there had been a 
second edition of Christianity and Mythology, 
in which any reply I might have to make to Dr. 
Carpenter might naturally be expected to appear, 
that critic having challenged the proposition as put 
in the first edition. A second edition had appeared, 
in 1910, and there I had duly given the simple 
answer which the two learned Doctors of Divinity, 
so conscious of knowing all Greek literature from 
Plato to Plotinus, were unable to think of for them- 
selves. The field of Greek literature, as Dr. Car- 
penter justly observes, is open ; and it would have 
been fitting on his part to perambulate a little 
therein. The demanded instance lay to the hand 
of unlearned people in so familiar an author as 
Plutarch — in the tale of Lycurgus and Alcander. 
As Dr. Thorburn and Dr. Carpenter, however, must 
be supposed to have been ignorant of that story, it 
may be well to tell it briefly here. 

Lycurgus having greatly exasperated the rich 
citizens by proposing the institution of frugal 
common meals, they made a tumult and stoned 
him in the market-place, so that he had to run for 
sanctuary in a temple. But one of his pursuers, 
a violent youth named Alcander, caught up with 



ILLUSIONS AS TO GOSPEL ETHIC 25 

him, and, striking him with a club as he turned 
round, dashed out one of his eyes. Lycurgus then 
stood cahnly facing the citizens, letting them see 
his bleeding face, and his eye destroyed. All who 
saw him were filled with shame and remorse. They 
gave up Alcander to his mercy, and conducted 
Lycurgus in procession to his house to show their 
sympathy. He thanked them and dismissed them, 
but kept Alcander with him. He did him no 
harm, and used no reproachful words, but kept 
him as his servant, sending away all others. And 
Alcander, dwelling with Lycurgus, noting his 
serenity of temper and simplicity of life and his 
unwearying labours, became his warmest admirer, 
and ever after told his friends that Lycurgus was 
the best of men. In one version of the tale 
Lycurgus gave back his freedom to Alcander in 
presence of the citizens, saying, You gave me a 
bad citizen ; I give you back a good one. 

If our Doctors of Divinity are unable to see that 
this represents a rarer strain of goodness than the 
deed of the Good Samaritan, they must be told that 
they are lacking in that very moral judgment upon 
which they plume themselves. Forever sitting in 
the chair of judgment, defaming all who dissent 
from them, they are ethically less percipient than 
the cultured laity. Thousands of kindly human 
beings, I repeat, have succoured wounded strangers, 
even those of hostile races ; and the tone held over 
the Gospel parable by some Christians is but the 
measure of their misconception of human nature. 
Their sectarian creed has bred in them a habit of 



26 THE HISTORICAL JESUS 

aspersing all humanity, all character, save the 
Christian, thus stultifying the very lesson of their 
parable, the framer of which would fain have taught 
men to transcend these very fanaticisms. They 
will not be *' neighbours " to the pagan to the 
extent of crediting him with their own appreciation 
of magnanimity and human-kindness ; they cannot 
even discuss his claim without seeking arrogantly 
to browbeat his favourers. Forever acclaiming the 
beauty of the command to forgive injuries, they 
cannot even debate without insolence where they 
know their sectarian claims are called in question. 
And I shall be agreeably disappointed if they pro- 
ceed to handle the tale of Lycurgus and Alcander 
without seeking to demonstrate that somehow it 
falls below the level of the Gospels, where, as it 
happens, the endurance of violence and death by 
the God-man is in effect presented as God-like. But 
for that matter, even the oft-cited saying *' Father, 
forgive them," occurs only in Luke of all the 
Gospels, and, being absent from two of the most 
ancient codices, betrays itself as a late addition to 
the text. It may be either Jewish or Gentile. For 
Plutarch, the Spartan tale is something edifying 
and gratifying, but he makes no parade of it as 
a marvel ; and in his essay Of Profiting by our 
Enemies he speaks of the forgiveness of enemies 
as a thing not rarely to be met with : — 

To forbear to be revenged of an enemy if oppor- 
tunity and occasion is offered, and to let him go 
when he is in thy hands, is a point of great humanity 
and courtesy ; but him that hath compassion of him 
when he is fallen into adversity, succoureth him in 



ILLUSIONS AS TO GOSPEL ETHIC 27 



distress, at his request is ready to show goodwill to 
his children, and an affection to sustain the state 
of his house and family being in affliction, who doth 
not love for this kindness, nor praise the goodness 
of his nature? {Holland's translation.) 

Had that passage appeared in a Gospel, how would 
not our Doctors of Divinity have exclaimed over the 
moral superiority of Christian ethic, demonstrating 
that it alone appealed to the heart ! In actual 
fact we find them denying that such passages exist. 
The most disgraceful instance known to me ap- 
pears to implicate an Austrian theologian. In the 
** Editor's Forewords" to the Early English Text 
Society's volume of Queen Elizabeth's English- 
INGS there is a note on Plutarch's De Cueiositate, 
apropos of Elizabeth's translation of that essay : — 

In De Curiositate, as well as in his other writings, 
Plutarch proves himself to be a true Stoic philo- 
sopher, to possess first-rate moral principles and 

great fear of God His religious views sometimes 

remind us, like those of Seneca, of Christian teaching ; 
but here there is always one important omission — 
viz., the commendation of charity or brotherly love ; 
of this Christian virtue the stoic, so virtuous in his 
own relations, hnoius absolutely nothing. 

At the close of the *' Forewords " the Editor, 
Miss Caroline Pemberton, mentions that " The 
comments on the writings of Boethius and Plutarch 
are by Dr. J. Schenk, of Meran, Tyrol." To Dr. 
Schenk, then, must apparently be credited the high- 
water mark in Christian false-witness against 
paganism. Either he did or he did not know that 
Plutarch in other writings had given full expression 
to the ethic of brotherly love. If he did not know. 



28 THE HISTORICAL JESUS 

he was not only framing a wanton libel in sheer 
ignorance but giving a particularly deadly proof of 
his own destitution of the very virtue he was so 
unctuously denying to the pagan. A man devoid 
not merely of charity but of decent concern for 
simple justice poses as a moral teacher in virtue of 
his Christianism ; even as the professional encomiasts 
of the parable of the Good Samaritan demonstrate 
their own blindness to its meaning, playing the 
Levite to the Pagan. 

Plutarch, so much better a man than his Chris- 
tian critic, was in turn no innovator in ethics. 
As every student knows, such doctrines as 
those above cited from him are far older than 
the Christian religion. Five centuries before the 
Christian era Confucius put the law of reciprocity 
in the sane form of the precept that we should not 
do unto others what we would not that they should 
do unto us. Are we to suppose that the rule had 
been left to Confucius to invent ? Christians who 
cannot conform to it are not ashamed to disparage 
the precept of Confucius as a " negative " teaching, 
implying that there is a higher moral strain in their 
formula which prescribes the doing to others what 
we would wish them to do to us. There, if any 
difference of code be really intended, we are urged 
to confer benefits in orde'r to have them returned. 
If no difference is intended, the disparagement is 
mere deceit. In the ancient Hindu epic, the 
Mahdbhdrata, it is declared that '* The Gods regard 

with delight the man who when struck does not 

strike again," and that " The good, when they 



ILLUSIONS AS TO GOSPEL ETHIC 29 

promote the welfare of others, expect no reciprocity." 
How long are we to listen to the childish claim that 
moral maxims which in India were delivered millen- 
niums ago by forgotten men were framable in 
Seneca's day only in Syria, and there only by one 
''unique and effulgent" personality, whose mere 
teaching lifted humanity to new heights ? Had no 
nameless man or woman in Greece ever urged the 
beauty of non-retaliation before Plato ? 

If clerics cannot rise above the old disingenuous 
sectarian spirit, it is time at least that laymen should. 
The more historic comprehension a man has of the 
ancient world, of Plutarch's world, with all its sins 
and delusions, the less can he harbour the notion of 
the moral miracle involved in the thesis of the 
unique teacher, suddenly revealing to an amazed 
humanity heights of moral aspiration before un- 
dreamt of. And any considerate scrutiny of the 
logia of the Gospels will inevitably force the open- 
minded student to recognize multiplicity of thought 
and ideal, and compel him to seek some explanation. 
An effort to detach a possible personality by the 
elimination of impossible adjuncts is the next 
natural step. 



Chapter IV 

THE METHOD OF BLUSTEE 

For anyone who will soberly and faithfully face 
the facts there must sooner or later arise the 
problem, Is there any unifying personality behind 
this medley of many sets of doctrines, many voices, 
many schools ? Even if it were possible to piece 
together from it a coherent body of either ethical 
or religious thought, and jettison the rest, is there 
any reason to believe that the selected matter 
belongs to the Gospel Teacher with the Twelve 
Disciples, crucified on the morning after the Pass- 
over under Pontius Pilate? When the crowning 
doctrine of sacrament and sacrifice is seen to be but 
the consummation of a religious lore beginning in 
prehistoric and systematic human sacrifice, and 
traceable in a score of ancient cults, is it possible to 
claim that the palpably dramatic record of Last 
Supper, Agony, Betrayal, Trial, and Crucifixion is 
a historic record of a strange coincidence between 
cult practice and biography ? And if that goes, 
what is left ? If, says Loisy, the condemnation of 
Jesus as pretended Messiah by Pilate " could be 
put in doubt, one would have no motive for affirm- 
ing the existence of Christ." ^ And it can ! 

^ J^.sus et la tradition ivangilique, 1910, p. 45. 
30 



THE METHOD OF BLUSTER 31 

Some, assuming to settle the problem by rhetoric, 
in effect stand for a " personality " without any 
pretence of establishing what the '* personality " 
taught. And this inexpensive device will doubtless 
long continue to be practised by the large class who 
insist upon solving all such problems by instinct. 
An example of that procedure is afforded by an 
article headed " A Barren Controversy," by the 
Kev. Frederick Sinclair, in a magazine entitled 
Fellowship, the organ of the Free Keligious 
Fellowship, Melbourne, issue of March, 1915. The 
controversy is certainly barren enough as Mr. 
Sinclair conducts it. His religious temper is of a 
familiar type. "It is a hard task to prove the 
obvious," he begins; " and no obligation is laid on 
us to examine and refute the evidences alleged in 
support of this or that cock-and-bull theory." We 
can imagine how the reverend critic would have 
shone in the sixteenth or the seventeenth century, 
disposing of the Copernican theory, which so pre- 
sumptuously assailed " the obvious." True to his 
principles, he does not hamper himself by meeting 
arguments or evidence. '* Mythical theories about 
Christ have about as much scientific value and 
importance as the theories of the Baconians about 

Shakespeare. They are products of that 

perverted credulity which will swallow anything, 
so long as it is not orthodox ; and they are best met 
by the method of satire adopted by Whately in his 
'Historic Doubts' on Napoleon." And yet our 
expert renounces that admirable instrument in 
favour of the simpler procedure vulgarly known as 



32 THE HISTORICAL JESUS 

" bluff." He is in reality a good example of the 
psychosis of the very Baconism which he contemns, 
and which he would probably be quite unable to 
confute. An aesthetic impression of " reality " 
derived from a hypnotized perusal of Mark, and a 
feeling that only one man could deliver such oracles, 
are the beginning and end of his dialectic and 
scholarly stock-in-trade; even as a consciousness 
that Bacon m^ist be the author of the Plays, and 
that the actor Shakespeare could not have written 
them, is the beginning and end of the ignorant 
polemic of the Baconists. 

To do him justice, it should be noted that Mr. 
Sinclair warns his readers both before and after 
his case that his handling of the theme and their 
preparation for estimating it leave a great deal to 
be desired by those who care to see applied " the 
method of careful criticism." Still, he is satisfied 
that it is " adequate to the particular question we 
have been considering." And this is how Mr. 
Sinclair has considered : — 

Anyone who will pay this controversy the com- 
pliment of a few hours' consideration is advised to 
bring his own judgment to bear on it in the follow- 
ing way : Let him begin by taking a copy of St. 
Mark's Gospel, which is the earliest of the four, in 
either of the English versions, and read it through, 
pencil in hand, striking out all the miraculous or 
quasi-miraculous stories. Then, gathering up what 
remains, let him read it, first as a whole, then 
singly, episode by episode, always keeping the eye 
of the imagination open, dismissing as far as 
possible any prepossessions, and letting the author 
make his own impression, without the interfering 



THE METHOD OF BLUSTER 33 

offices of critic or commentator. Having done this, 
let the reader ask of himself of each story : Is this 
a story which seeins to belong to actual life, to be 
told of a real human being, with distinct individuality, 
or is it rather a literary invention, designed to add 
something to a conventional figure? Does the 
narrative move with the freedom and variety of 
life, or does it fit into a conventional, symmetrical 
design ? Does the writer's style and method arouse 
the suspicion of literary artifice ? Must one say of 
this or that story that its reality is the reality of 
life, or of an art which cunningly counterfeits life ? . 

The open-minded reader, I trust, will hardly need 
to be told that what is here done is to set a false 
problem and ignore the real issue. Mr. Sinclair 
either cannot understand that issue or elects to 
evade it. Probably the former is the explanation. 
No critic of the Gospels, so far as I remember, ever 
suggested that any of them " cunningly counterfeits 
life"; and certainly no one ever pretended that 
Mark^ exhibits a ''conventional, symmetrical 
design," though Wilke argued that it " freely 
moulded the traditional historical material in pur- 
suance of literary aims," and B. Weiss praises its 
literary colouring. It is a heap of unreal incident, 
fortuitously collocated,^ and showing nothing ap- 
proaching to symmetrical design. *' Conventional " 
raises another question ; in this as in all the Gospels 
there is plenty of convention. 

^ It should be explained that in using, for convenience sake, the 
traditional ascriptions of the four Gospels, I do not for a moment 
admit that these hold good of the Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John 
of the tradition. In not one case is that tradition historically valid. 

^ The Rev. A. Wright (A^. T. Problems, 1898, p. 15) pronounces 
it "completely unchronological." Sanday acquiesces {id., p. 177). 

D 



34 THE HISTORICAL JESUS 

Let Tis but follow for a little the simple method 
of selection prescribed by Mr. Sinclair, and see what 
we get. What we are to make of Mark i, 1-9, is 
far from clear. It sets forth the advent of John as 
the fulfilment of a prophecy — i.e., a miracle ; and 
it describes his mission in the baldest conceivable 
summary, save for the sentence : " And John was 
clothed with camel's hair, and had a leathern girdle 
about his loins, and did eat locusts and wild honey." 
Is this "convention" or " reahty " ? I am not 
inclined to call it " literary artifice," unless we are 
to apply that description to the beginning of the 
average nursery tale, as perhaps we should. What 
must strike the inquiring reader is that if we were 
to have a touch of " reality " about the Baptist we 
should be told something about his inner history, 
his antecedents, and what he preached. What we 
are told is that " he preached, saying, There cometh 

after me he that is mightier than I I baptized 

you with water ; but he shall baptize you with the 
Holy Spirit." 

If this part of the narrative has not been " struck 
out " by Mr. Sinclair's neophytes as plainly belong- 
ing to the miraculous, the next five verses presum- 
ably must be. The non-miraculous narrative begins 
at V. 14 : — 

Now, after that John was delivered up, Jesus 
came into Galilee, preaching the Gospel of God, and 
saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of 
God is at hand ; repent ye, and believe in the Gospel 
[not a word of which has been communicated] . 

And passing along by the sea of Galilee, he saw 
Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a 



THE METHOD OF BLUSTER 35 

net in the sea ; for they were fishers. And Jesus 
said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make 
you to become fishers of men. And straightway 
they left the nets, and followed him. And going on 
a little further, he saw James the son of Zebedee 
and John his brother, who also were in the boat 
mending the nets. And straightway he called them ; 
and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with 
the hired servants, and went after him. 

This "episode," for Mr. Sinclair, "seems to 
belong to real life, to be told of a real human being 
with distinct individuality." For critical readers it 
is a primitive " conventional " narrative, told by a 
w^riter who has absolutely no historic knowledge to 
communicate. Of the preaching of the Saviour he 
has no more to tell than of the preaching of the 
Baptist. Both are as purely " conventional," so 
far, as an archaic statue of Hermes. Of " the 
freedom and variety of life " there is not a trace ; 
Mr. Sinclair, who professes to find these qualities, 
is talking in the manner of a showman at a fair. 
The important process of making disciples resolves 
itself into a fairy tale : " Come and I will make you 
fishers of men; and they came." A measure of 
" literary artifice " is perhaps to be assigned to the 
items of " casting a net," " mending the net," and 
" left their father in the boat with the hired 
servants";^ but it is the literary art of a thousand 
fairy tales, savage and civilized, and stands for the 
method of a narrator who is dealing with purely 

* Such details, imposed on an otherwise empty narrative, suggest 
a pictorial basis, as does the account of the Baptist. Strauss cites 
the Hebrew myth-precedent of the calling of Elisha from the plough 
by Elijah. 



36 THE HISTOEICAL JESUS 

conventional figures, not with characters concerning 
which he has knowledge. The calling of the first 
disciples in the rejected Fourth Gospel has much 
more semblance of reality. 

If the cautious reader is slow to see these plain 
facts on the pointing of one who is avowedly an 
unbeliever in the historic tradition, let him listen 
to a scholar of the highest eminence, who, after 
proving himself a master in Old Testament criticism, 
set himself to specialize on the New. Says Well- 
hausen : " The Gospel of Mark, in its entirety, 
lacks the character of history." ^ And he makes 
good his judgment in detail : — 

Names of persons are rare: even Jairus is not 
named in [codex] D. Among the dramatis personcB 
it is only Jesus who distinctively speaks and acts ; 
the antagonists provoke him ; the disciples are only 
figures in the background. But of what he lived 
by, how he dwelt, ate, and drank, bore himself with 
his companions, nothing is vouchsafed. It is told 
that he taught in the synagogue on the Sabbath, 
but no notion is given of the how ; we get only 
something of what he said outside the synagogue, 
usually through a special incident which elicits it. 
The normal things are never related, only the extra- 
ordinary The scantiness of the tradition is 

remarkable.^ 

The local connection of the events, the itinerary, 
leaves as much to be desired as the chronological ; 
seldom is the transit indicated in the change of 
scene. Single incidents are often set forth in a 
lively way, and this without any unreal or merely 
rhetorical devices, but they are only anecdotally 
related, rari nantes in gurgite vasto. They do not 

^ Einleitung in die drei ersten Evangelien, 1905, p. 51. 
2 Id. p. 47. 



THE METHOD OF BLUSTER 37 

amount to material for a life of Jesus. And one 
never gets the impression that an attempt had been 
made among those who had eaten and drunk with 
him to give others a notion of his personality. 

Wellhausen, it is true, finds suggestions of a real 
and commanding personality; but they are very 
scanty, the only concrete detail being the v^atching 
the people as they drop their offerings into the 
collecting-chest ! " Passionate moral sensibility dis- 
tinguishes him. He gives v^ay to divine feeling in 
anger against the oppressors of the people and in 
sympathy with the lowly." But here too there is 
qualification : — 

But in Mark this motive for miracles seldom 
comes out. They are meant to be mainly displays 
of the Messiah's power. Mark does not write 
de vita et moribiis Jesu : he has not the aim of 
making his person distinguishable, or even intel- 
ligible. It is lost for him in the divine vocation ; 
he means to show that Jesus is the Christ.^ 

Then we have a significant balancing between 
the perception that Mark is not history, and that, 
after all, it is practically all there is : — 

Already the oral tradition which he found had 
been condensed under the influence of the stand- 
point from which he set out. He is silent on this 
and that which he can omit as being know7i to his 
readers — for instance, the names of the parents of 
Jesus (!). Nevertheless, he has left little that is 
properly historical for his successors to glean after 
him ; and what they know in addition is of doubtful 
worth 

Why is not something more, and something more 

1 Id. p. 51. 2 jr^_ p^ 52. 



THE HISTOEICAL JESUS 



trustworthy, reported of the intercourse of the 
Master with his disciples? It would rather seem 
that the narrative tradition in Mark did not come 
directly from the intimates of Jesus. It has on the 
whole a somewhat rude and demotic cast, as if it 
had previously by a long circulation in the mouth 
of the people come to the rough and drastic style 

in which it lies before us Mark took up what 

the tradition carried to him. 

Such is the outcome of a close examination by 
an original scholar who takes for granted the his- 
toricity of Jesus. It is a poor support to a pretence 
of finding a lifelike narrative. 

If the reader under Mr. Sinclair's tutelage v^ill at 
this point vary his study somewhat (at the cost of 
a few extra hours) by reading samples of quite 
primitive folk-lore — say the Hottentot Fables 
AND Tales collected by Dr. Bleek, in which the 
characters are mostly, but not always, animals ; or 
some of the fairy tales in Gill's Myths and Songs 
OF THE South Pacific — and then proceed to the 
tale of Tom Tit Tot, as given by Mr. Edward 
Clodd in the dialect of East Anglia, he will perhaps 
begin to realize that unsophisticated narrators not 
only can but frequently do give certain touches of 
quasi-reality to " episodes " which no civilized reader 
can suppose to have been real. In particular he 
will find in the vivacious Tom Tit Tot an amount 
of " the freedom and variety of life " in comparison 
with which the archaic stiffness and bareness of the 
Gospel narrative is as dumb-show beside drama. 
And if he will next pay some attention to the narra- 
tive of Homer, in which Zeus and Here are so 



THE METHOD OF BLUSTEE 39 

much more life-like than a multitude of the human 
personages of the epic, and then turn to see how 
Plutarch writes professed biography, some of it 
absolutely mythical, but all of it on a documentary 
basis of some kind, he will perhaps begin to suspect 
that Mr. Sinclair has not even perceived the nature 
of the problem on which he pronounces, and so is 
not in a position to '' consider " it at all. Plutarch 
is nearly as circumstantial about Theseus and 
Herakles and Eomulus as about Solon. But when 
he has real biographical material to go upon as to 
real personages he gives us a " freedom and variety 
of life " which is as far as the poles asunder from 
the hieratic figures of the Christian Gospel. Take 
his Fabius Maximus. After the pedigree, with its 
due touch of myth, we read : — 

His own personal nickname was Verrucosus, 
because he had a little wart growing on his upper 
lip. The name of Ovicula, signifying sheep, was 
also given him while yet a child, because of his 
slow and gentle disposition. He was quiet and 
silent, very cautious in taking part in children's 
games, and learned his lessons slowly and with 
difficulty, which, combined with his easy obliging 
ways with his comrades, made those who did not 
know him think that he was dull and stupid. Few 
there were who could discern, hidden in the depths 
of his soul, his glorious and lion-like character. 

This is biography, accurate or otherwise. Take 
again the Life of Pericles, where after the brief 
account of parentage, with the item of the mother's 
dream, we get this : — 

His body was symmetrical, but his head was 
long out of all proportion ; for which reason in 



40 THE HISTOEICAL JESUS 

nearly all his statues he is represented wearing a 
helmet ; as the sculptors did not wish, I suppose, 

to reproach him with this blemish Most writers 

tell us that his tutor in music was Damon, whose 
name they say should be pronounced with the first 
syllable short. Aristotle, however, says that he 
studied under Pythocleides. This Damon, it seems, 
was a sophist of the highest order 

The '* biographer " who so satisfies Mr. Sinclair's 
sense of actuality has not one word of this kind to 
say of the youth, upbringing, birthplace, or appear- 
ance of the Teacher, who for him was either God 
or Supreme Man. Seeking for the alleged " freedom 
and variety of life " in the narrative, we go on to 
read : — 

And they go into Capernaum ; and straightway 
on the sabbath day he entered into the synagogue 
and taught. And they were astonished at his teach- 
ing : for he taught them as having authority, and 
not as the scribes. And straightway there was in 
their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit — 

and straightway we are back in the miraculous. 
Mr. Joseph McCabe, who in his excellent book on 
the Sources of the Morality of the Gospels 
avows that he holds by the belief in a historical 
Jesus, though unable to assign to him with con- 
fidence any one utterance in the record, fatally 
anticipates Mr. Sinclair by remarking that *' If the 
inquirer will try the simple and interesting experi- 
ment of eliminating from the Gospel of Mark all 
the episodes which essentially involve miracle, he 
will find the remainder of the narrative amazingly 
paltry." To which verdict does the independent 
reader begin to incline ? Thus the ** episodes " 



THE METHOD OF BLUSTER 41 

continue, after three paragraphs of the miraculous : — 

And in the morning, a great while before day, he 
rose UP and went out, and departed into a desert 
place, and there prayed. And Simon and they that 
were with him followed after him ; and they found 
him, and say unto him, All are seeking thee. And 
he saith unto them, Let us go elsewhere into the 
next towns, that I may preach there also ; for to 
this end came I forth. And he went into their 
synagogues throughout all Galilee, preaching and 
casting out devils. 

It would seem sufficient to say that Mr. Sinclair, 
with his "freedom and variety of life," is incapable 
of critical reflection upon what he reads. In the 
opening chapter we have not a single touch of 
actuality ; the three meaningless and valueless 
touches of detail (" a great while before day " is the 
third) serve only to reveal the absolute deficit of 
biographical knowledge. We have reiterated state- 
ments that there was teaching, and not a syllable 
of what was taught. The only utterances recorded 
in the chapter are parts of the miracle-episodes, 
which we are supposed to ignore. Let us then 
consider the critic's further asseveration : — 

It will be observed that certain distinct traits 
appear in the central figure, and that these traits 
are not merely those of the conventional religious 
hero, but the more simple human touches of anger, 
pity, indignation, despondency, exultation ; these 
scattered touches, each so vivid, fuse into a natural 
and intelligible whole. The Jesus of Mark is a real 
man, who moves and speaks and feels like a man (!) 
— '* a creature not too bright or good for human 
nature's daily food" — 



42 THE HISTOEICAL JESUS 

a notable variation from the more familiar thesis of 
the " sublime " and " unique " figure of current 
polemic. Looking for the alleged details, we find 
Jesus caUing the fifth disciple : " He saith unto 
him, Follow me. And he arose and followed him " 
— another touch of " freedom and variety." Then, 
after a series of Messianic utterances, including a 
pronouncement against Sabbatarianism of the ex- 
tremer sort, comes the story of the healing of the 
withered hand, with its indignant allocution to 
**them" in the synagogue: "Is it lawful on the 
sabbath day to do good, or to do harm, to save a 
life or to kill ? " Here, in a miracle story, we have 
an intelligible protest against Sabbatarianism : is it 
the protest or the indignation that vouches for the 
actuality of the protesting figure ? Nay, if we are 
to elide the miraculous, how are we to let the 
allocution stand ? 

These protests against Sabbatarianism, as it 
happens, are the first approximations to actuality 
in the document ; and as such they raise questions 
of which the " instinctive " school appear to have no 
glimpse, but which we shall later have to consider 
closely. In the present connection, it may suffice 
to ask the question : Was anti- Sabbatarianism, or 
was it not, the first concrete issue raised by the 
alleged Teacher ? In the case put, is it likely to 
have been? Were the miraculous healing of 
disease, and the necessity of feeding the disciples, 
with the corollary that the Son of Man was Lord 
of the Sabbath, salient features in a popular gospel 
of repentance in view of the coming of the Kingdom 



THE METHOD OF BLUSTER 43 

of God? If so, it is in flat negation of the 
insistence on the maintenance of the law in the 
Sermon on the Mount (Mt. v, 17-20), which thus 
becomes for us a later imposition on the cultus of a 
purely Judaic principle, in antagonism to the other. 
That is to say, a movement which began with 
anti- Sabbatarianism was after a time joined or 
directed by Sabbatarian Judaists, for whom the 
complete apparatus of the law was vital. If, on the 
other hand, recognizing that anti- Sabbatarianism, 
in the terms of the case, was not likely to be a 
primary element in the new teaching, that its first 
obtrusion in the alleged earliest Gospel is in an 
expressly Messianic deliverance, and its second in 
a miracle-story, we proceed to '' strike out " both 
items upon Mr. Sinclair's ostensible principles, we 
are deprived of the first touch of *' indignation " and 
" anger " which would otherwise serve to support 
his very simple thesis. 



Chapter V 

SCHMIEDEL AND DEKOGATOKY MYTH 

From this point onwards, every step in the 
investigation will be found to convict the Unitarian 
thesis of absolute nullity. It is indeed, on the face 
of it, an ignorant pronouncement. The character- 
istics of '' anger, pity, indignation, despondency, 
exultation," are all present in the myth of Herakles, 
of whom Diodorus Siculus, expressly distinguishing 
between mythology and history, declares (i, 2) that 
*' by the confession of all, during his whole life he 
freely undertook great and continual labours and 
dangers, in order that by doing good to the race of 
men he might win immortal fame." Herakles was, 
in fact, a Saviour who " went about doing good." ^ 
The historicity of Herakles is not on that score 
accepted by instructed men ; though I have known 
divinity students no less contemptuous over the 
description of the cognate Samson saga as a sun 
myth than is Mr. Sinclair over the denial of the 
historicity of Jesus. 

So common a feature of a hundred myths, indeed, 
is the set of characteristics founded on, that we may 
at once come to the basis of his argument, a 
blundering reiteration of the famous thesis of 

* Note the identity of terms, evepyeTuv in Acts (x, 38), evepyeri^cras 
in Diodorus. 

44 



SOHMIEDEL AND DEEOGATOEY MYTH 45 

Professor Schmiedel, who is the sole source of Mr. 
Sinclair's latent erudition. " The line of inquiry 
here suggested," he explains, " has been worked out 
in a pamphlet of Schmiedel, which will be found in 
the Fellowship library." But the dialectic which 
broadly avails for the Bible class will not serve their 
instructor here. The essence of the argument 
which Professor Schmiedel urges with scholarlike 
sobriety is thus put by Mr. Sinclair with the 
extravagance natural to his species : — 

Many [compare Schmiedel !] of the stories 
represent him [Jesus] in a light which, from the 
point of view of conventional hero-worship, is even 
derogatory ; his friends come to seize him as a 
madman ; he is estranged from his own mother ; he 
can do no mighty work in the unsympathetic 
atmosphere of his own native place. 

The traditionalist is here unconsciously substi- 
tuting a new and different argument for the first. 
Hitherto the thesis has been that of the " vividness " 
of the record, the '* human touches," the, " speaking 
and feehng like a real man," the " freedom and 
variety of life." Apparently he has had a shadow 
of misgiving over these simple criteria. If, indeed, 
he had given an hour to the perusal of Albert 
Kalthoff's KiSE of Cheistianity, instead of 
proceeding to vilipend a literature of which he 
had read nothing, he would have learned that 
his preliminary thesis is there anticipated and 
demolished. Kalthoff meets it by the simple 
observation that the books of Euth and Jonah 
supply " human touches " and " freedom and variety 
of life " to a far greater degree than does the Gospel 



46 THE HISTOBICAL JESUS 

story considered as a life of Jesus ; though 
practically all scholars are now agreed that both 
of the former books are deliberately planned 
fictions, or early ''novels with a purpose." Kuth 
is skilfully framed to contend against the Jewish 
bigotry of race ; and Jonah to substitute a humane 
ideal for the ferocious one embalmed in so much of 
the sacred hterature. Yet so "vividly" are the 
central personages portrayed that down till the 
other day all the generations of Christendom, 
educated and uneducated alike, accepted them 
unquestioningly as real records, whatever might 
be thought by the judicious few of the miracle 
element in Jonah. 

It is thus ostensibly quite expedient to substitute 
for the simple thesis of " vividness " in regard to 
the second Gospel the quite different argument that 
some of the details exclude the notion that " the 
author" regarded Jesus as a supernatural person. 
But this thesis instantly involves the defence in 
fresh trouble, besides breaking down utterly on its 
own merits. In the early chapters of Mark, Jesus is 
emphatically presented as a supernormal person — 
the deity's " beloved Son," " the Holy One of God," 
who has the divine power of forgiving sins, is *' lord 
even of the sabbath," and is hailed by the defeated 
spirits of evil as '* the Son of God," and the " Son 
of the Most High God." Either the conception of 
Jesus in Mark vi is compatible with all this or it is 
not. If not, the case collapses, for the " derogatory " 
episode must be at once branded as an interpolation. 
And if it be argued that even as an interpolation it 



SCHMIEDEL AND DEEOGATOBY MYTH 47 

testifies at once to a non-supernaturalist view of the 
Founder's function and a real knowledge of his life 
and actions, we have only to give a list of more or 
less mythical names in rebuttal. To claim that the 
episode in Mark vi, 1-6, is " derogatory from the 
point of view of conventional hero-worship," and 
therefore presumptively historical, is to ignore alike 
Jewish and Gentile hero-worship. In the Old 
Testament Adam, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Judah, 
Moses, Aaron, Samson, David, and Solomon are all 
successively placed in '' derogatory " positions; and 
the Pagan hero-worshippers of antiquity are equally 
with the Jewish recalcitrant to Mr. Sinclair's con- 
viction of what they ought to do. 

Professor Schmiedel is aware, though Mr. Sinclair 
apparently is not, that Herakles in the myth is 
repeatedly placed in " derogatory " positions, and is 
not only seized as a madman but actually driven 
mad. The reader who will further extend Mr. 
Sinclair's brief curriculum to a perusal of the 
Bacch^ of Euripides will find that the God, who 
in another story is temporarily driven mad by Juno, 
is there subjected to even greater indignities than 
those so triumphantly specified by our hierologist. 
Herakles and Dionysos, we may be told, were only 
demigods, not Gods. But Professor Schmiedel's 
thesis is that for the writer of Mark or of his 
original document Jesus was only a holy man. On 
the other hand — to say nothing of the myths of 
Zeus and Here, Ares and Aphrodite, Hephaistos 
and Poseidon — Apollo, certainly a God for the 
framers of his myth, is there actually represented 



48 THE HISTOEICAL JESUS 



as being banished from heaven and Hving in a state 
of servitude to Admetus for nine years. A God, 
then, could be conceived in civilized antiquity as 
undergoing many and serious indignities. These 
simple k priori arguments are apt to miscarry even 
in the hands of careful and scrupulous scholars like 
Professor Schmiedel, who have failed to realize that 
no amount of textual scholarship can suffice to 
settle problems which in their very nature involve 
fundamental issues of anthropology, mythology, and 
hierology. As Professor Schmiedel is never guilty 
of browbeating, I make no disparagement of his 
solid work on the score that he has not taken 
account of these fields in his argument ; but when 
his untenable thesis is brandished by men who have 
neither his form of scholarship nor any other, it is 
apt to incur summary handling. 

Elsewhere I have examined Professor Schmiedel's 
thesis in detail.^ Here it may suffice to point out 
(1) as aforesaid, that the argument from derogatory 
treatment is not in the least a proof that in an 
ancient narrative a personage is not regarded as 
superhuman ; (2) that a sufferi7ig Messiah was 
expressly formulated in Jewish literature in the 
pre-Christian period ;^ and (3) that there are ex- 
tremely strong grounds for inferring purposive inven- 
tion — of that naif kind which marks the whole mass 
of early hierology — in the very episodes upon which 

* Christianity and Mythology, 2nd ed. p. 441 sq.; Pagan Christs, 
2nd ed. pp. 229-236. A notably effective criticism is passed on the 
thesis in Prof. W. B. Smith's Ecce Deus, p. 177 sq. Mr. Sinclair, 
of course, does not dream of meeting such replies. 

^ What else is signified by Acts iii, 18 ; xvii, 3 ? 



SCHMIEDEL AND DEROGATOEY MYTH 49 

he founds. The first concrete details of the Founder's 
propaganda in Mark, as we have seen, exhibit him 
as clashing with the Judaic environment. In later 
episodes he clashes with it yet further. The 
" derogatory" episodes exhibit him as clashing with 
his personal environment, his family and kin, con- 
cerning whom there has been no mention whatever 
at the outset, where we should expect to find it. 
All this is in line with the anti-Judaic element of 
the Gospel. If at early stages in the larger Jesuine 
movement there were reasons why the Founder 
should be represented as detaching himself from the 
Mosaic law ; as being misunderstood and deserted 
by his disciples ; and as disparaging even the listen- 
ing Jewish multitude (concerning whom Mark, 
iv, 10 sq., makes him say that " unto them that 
are without, all things are done in parables, that 
seeing they may see and not perceive, and hearing 
they may hear and not understand, lest haply they 
should turn again, and it should he forgiven them "), 
is there anything unlikely in his being inventively 
represented as meeting antipathetic treatment from 
his family ? ^ At a time when so-called " brothers 
of the Lord " ostensibly claimed authority in the 
Judseo-Gentile community, an invented tale of 
original domestic hostility to the Teacher would 
be as likely as the presence of authorities so styled 
is unlikely on the assumption that the story in Mark 
was all along current. The very fact that allusions 
to the family of the Lord suddenly appear in a 

^ Dr. W. B. Smith sees in the story a mere symbolizing of the 
rejection of Jesus by the Jews. This may very well be the case. 



50 THE HISTOEICAL JESUS 



record which had introduced him as a heavenly 
messenger, without mention of home or kindred or 
preparation, tells wholly against the originality of 
the later details, which in the case of the naming 
of '* the carpenter " and his mother have a polemic 
purpose/ 



^ Dr. Flinders Petrie even infers a " late " reference to the Virgin- 
Birth. The Oroioth of the Gospels, 1910, p. 86. This Loisy rejects. 



Chapter VI 

THE VISIONAEY EVANGEL 

All this applies, of course, to the '* Primitive Gospel " 
held to underlie all of the synoptics, Mark included 
— a datum which reduces to comparative unim- 
portance the question of priority among these. As 
collected by the school of Bernhard Weiss,^ the 
primitive Gospel, like Mark, set out v^ith a non- 
historical introduction of the Messiah to be baptized 
by John. It then gives the temptation myth in 
full ; and immediately afterwards the Teacher is 
made to address to disciples (who have not pre- 
viously been mentioned or in any way accounted 
for) the Sermon on the Mount, with variations, 
and without any mount. In this place we have the 
uncompromising insistence on the Mosaic law ; and 
soon, after some miracles of healing and some 
Messianic discourses, including the liturgical ** Come 
unto me all ye that labour," we have the Sabbatarian 
question raised on the miracle of the healing of the 
man with the dropsy, but without the argument 
from the Davidic eating of the shewbread.^ 

^ See the useful work of Mr. A. J. Jolley, The Synoptic Problem 
for English Readers, 1893. 

2 Yeb B. Weiss had contended (Manual, Eng. tr. ii, 224) that 
Mark ii, 24 ff., 28, ^'mnst be taken from a larger collection of sayings 
in which the utterances of Jesus respecting the keeping of the 
Sabbath were put together (Matt, xii, 2-8)." 

61 



62 THE HISTORICAL JESUS 

There is no more of the colour of history here 
than in Mark : so obviously is it wanting in both 
that the really considerate exegetes are driven to 
explain that history v^as not the object in either 
v^riting. In both *' the twelve " are suddenly sent 
— in the case of Mark, after a list of twelve had 
been inserted without any reference to the first 
specified five ; in the reconstructed " primitive " 
document without any list whatever — to preach the 
blank gospel, " The kingdom of God is at hand," 
with menaces for the non-recipient, the allocutions 
to Chorazin and Bethsaida being here made part of 
the instructions to the apostles. 

What, then, are the disciples supposed to have 
preached ? What had the Teacher preached as an 
evangel of **the Kingdom"? The record has 
expressly represented that his parables were 
incomprehensible to his own disciples ; and when 
they ask for an explanation they are told that the 
parables are expressly meant to be unintelligible, 
but that to them an explanation is vouchsafed. 
It is to the effect that "the seed is the word." 
What word? The "Kingdom"? The mystic 
allegories on that head are avowedly not for the 
multitude : they could not have been. Yet those 
allegories are the sole explanations ever afforded in 
the Gospels of the formula of "the Kingdom" 
which was to be the purport of the evangel of the 
apostles to the multitude. They themselves had 
failed to understand the parables ; and they were 
forbidden to convey the explanation. What, then, 
had they to convey ? 



THE VISIONAEY EVANGEL 53 

And that issue raises another. "Why were there 
disciples at all ? Disciples are understood to be 
prepared as participants in or propagandists of 
somebody's teaching — a lore either exoteric or 
esoteric. But no intelhgible view has ever been 
given of the purpose of the Gospel Jesus in creating 
his group of Twelve. If we ask what he taught 
them, the only answer given by the documents is : 
(1) Casting out devils ; (2) The meaning of parables 
which were meant to be uninteUigible to the people : 
that is, either sheer thaumaturgy or a teaching 
which was never to be passed on. On the economic 
life of the group not one gleam of light is cast. 
Judas carried a '' bag," but as to whence came its 
contents there is no hint. The whole concept 
hangs in the air, a baseless dream. The myth- 
makers have not even tried to make it plausible. 

The problems thus raised are not only not faced 
by the orthodox exegetes; they are not see7i by 
them. They take the most laudable pains to 
ascertain what the primitive Gospel was like, and, 
having settled it to the satisfaction of a certain 
number, they rest from their labours. Yet we are 
only at the beginning of the main, the historic 
problem, from which Baur recalled Strauss to the 
documentary, with the virtual promise that its 
solution would clear up the other. 

A " higher " criticism than that so-called, it is 
clear, must set about the task; and its first 
conclusion, I suggest, must be that there never 
was any Christian evangel by the Christ and the 
Twelve. These allegories of the Kingdom are 



64 THE HISTORICAL JESUS 

framed to conceal the fact that the gospel-makers 
had no evangel to describe; though it may be 
claimed as a proof of their forensic simplicity that 
they actually represent the Founder as vetoing all 
popular explanation of the very formula which they 
say he sent his disciples to preach to the populace. 
An idea of the Kingdom of God, it may be argued, 
was already current among the Jews : the docu- 
ments assert that that was the theme of the 
Baptist. Precisely, but was the evangel of Jesus 
then simply the evangel of John, which it was to 
supersede ? And was the evangel of John only the 
old evangel, preached by Pharisees and others from 
the time of the Maccabees onwards?^ Whatever 
it was, what is the meaning of the repeated Gospel 
declaration that the nature of the Kingdom must 
not be explained to the people ? There is only one 
inference. The story of the sending forth of the 
twelve is as plainly mythical as is Luke's story of 
the sending forth of the seventy, which even the 
orthodox exegetes abandon as a '' symmetrical " 
myth ; though they retain the allocution embodied 
in it. What is in theory the supreme episode in 
the early propaganda of the cult is found to have 
neither historical content nor moral significance. 
Not only is there not a word of explanation of the 
formula of the evangel, there is not a word of 
description of the apostles' experience, but simply 
the usual negation of knowledge : — 

And the disciples returned and told him all that 
they had done, saying, Lord, even the devils are 

1 Cp. Dr. R. H. Charles, The Booh of Jtibilees, 1902, p. xiv. 



THE VISIONABY EVANGEL 55 

subject unto us through thy name. And he said, I 
beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven ; behold 
I have given you power to tread on serpents and 
scorpions and over all the power of the enemy ; 
notwithstanding, in this rejoice not, that the spirits 
are subject unto you, but rejoice because your 

names are written in heaven (Luke x, 17-20, 

with " the disciples " for " the seventy "). 

And this is history, or what the early Christian 
leaders thought fit to put in place of history, for 
Christian edification. The disciples, be it observed, 
had exorcized in the name of Jesus where Jesus 
had never been, a detail accepted by the 
faithful unsuspectingly, and temporized over no less 
unsuspectingly by the "liberal" school, but serving 
for the critical student to raise the question : Was 
there, then, an older cult of a Jesus-God in 
Palestiiie ? Leaving that problem for the present, 
we can but note that the report in effect tells that 
there was no evangel to preach. To any reflecting 
mind, it is the utterance of men who had nothing 
to relate, but are inserting an empty framework, 
wholly mythical, in a void past. Themselves ruled 
by the crudest superstition, they do but make the 
Divine Teacher talk on their own level, babbling 
of Satan falling from heaven, and of treading on 
serpents. All the labours of the generations of 
laborious scholars who have striven to get to the 
foundations of their documents have resulted in a 
pastiche which only the more clearly reveals the 
total absence of a historic basis such as the Gospels 
more circumstantially suggest. In the end we have 
neither history nor biography, but an absolutely 



56 THE HISTOEICAL JESUS 

enigmatic evangel, set in a miscellany of miracles 
and of discourses which are but devices to disguise 
the fact that there had been no original evangel to 
preach. If the early church had any creed, it was 
not this. It originated in a rite, not in an evangel. 
One hypothesis might, indeed, be hazarded to 
save the possibility of an actual evangel by the 
Founder. If, taking him to be historical, we 
assume him to have preached a political doctrine 
subversive of the Eoman rule, and to have thereby 
met his death, we could understand that, in a later 
period in which the writers connected with the 
movement were much concerned to conciliate the 
Komans, it might have been felt expedient, and 
indeed imperative, to suppress the facts. They 
would not specify the evangel, because they dared 
not. On this view the Founder was a Messiah of 
the ordinary Jewish type, aiming at the restoration 
of the Jewish State. But such a Jesus would not 
be the "Jesus of the Gospels" at all. He would 
merely be a personage of the same (common) name, 
who in no way answered to the Gospel figure, but 
had been wholly denaturalized to make him a cult- 
centre. On this hypothesis there has been no 
escape from the " myth- theory," but merely a 
restatement of it. A Jesus put to death by the 
Romans as a rebel Mahdi refuses to compose with 
the Teacher who sends out his apostles to preach 
his evangel ; who proclaims, if anything, a purely 
spiritual kingdom ; and who is put to death as 
seeking to subvert the Jewish faith, the Eoman 
governor giving only a passive and reluctant assent. 



THE VISION AEY EVANGEL 67 

On the political hypothesis, as on the myth-theory 
here put, the whole Gospel narrative of the Tragedy 
which establishes the cult remains mythical. We 
have but to proceed, then, with the analysis which 
reveals the manner of its composition and of its 
inclusion in the record. 

It is admitted by the reconstructors that the 
primitive Gospel had no conclusion, telling nothing 
of Last Supper, Agony, Betrayal, Crucifixion, or 
Resurrection. It did not even name Judas as the 
betrayer. And they explain that it was because of 
lacking these details that it passed out of use, super- 
seded by the Gospels which gave them. As if the 
conclusion, were it compiled in the same fashion, 
could not have been added to the original document, 
which ex hypothesi had the prestige of priority. 
V^hy the composer of the original did not add the 
required chapters is a question to which we get 
only the most futile answers, as is natural when the 
exegetes have not critically scrutinized the later 
matter. Thus even Mr. Jolley is content to say : — 

The omission of any account of the Passion or 
Eesurrection is natural enough in a writing primarily 
intended for the Christians of Judaea, some of them 
witnesses of the Crucifixion, and all, probably, 
familiar with the incidents of the Saviour's Judaean 
ministry, as well as with the events preceding and 
following the Passion, especially when we remember 
that the author had no intention (!) of writing a 
biography.^ 

Here the alleged fact that only so7ne had seen the 

* Work cited, p. 94. 



58 THE HISTOEICAL JESUS 

Crucifixion, while all knew all about the ministry, 
is given as a reason why the ministry should be 
described and the Crucifixion left undescribed and 
unmentioned ! 

The problem thus impossibly disposed of is really 
of capital importance. Any complete solution must 
remain hypothetical in the nature of the case ; but 
at least we are bound to recognize that the Primitive 
Gospel may have had a different conclusion, as it 
may further have contained matter not preserved 
in the synoptics. That might well be a sufficient 
ground for its abandonment by the Christian com- 
munity; and some such suspicion simply cannot 
be excluded, though it cannot be proved. But 
whatever we may surmise as to what may have 
been in the original document, we can offer a 
decisive reason why the existing conclusion should 
not have been part of it. That conclusion is 
primarily extraneous to any gospel, and is not 
originally a piece of narrative at all. 

Bernhard Weiss ascribes to Mark the original 
narrative of the closing events, making Matthew 
a simple copyist — a matter of no ultimate impor- 
tance, seeing that it is the same impossible and un- 
historical narrative in both documents. Like all 
the other professional exegetes, Bernhard Weiss 
and his school have failed to discern that the docu- 
ment reveals not only that it is not an original 
narrative at all, but that it could not possibly be a 
narrative. " It was only in the history of the 
passion," writes Weiss, ''that Mark could give a 
somewhat connected account partly of what he him- 



THE VISIONAEY EVANGEL 59 

self had seen and partly of what he gathered from 
those who witnessed the crucifixion." ^ Whether 
" passion " here includes the Agony in the Garden 
is not clear : as it is expressly distinguished from the 
crucifixion, which Mark by implication had not 
seen, the meaning remains obscure. Like the 
ordinary traditionalists, Weiss assumes that " after 
Peter's death Mark began to note down his recol- 
lections of what the Apostle had told him of the 
acts and discourses of Jesus." Supposing this to 
include the record of the night of the Betrayal, 
what were Mark's possible sources for the descrip- 
tion of the Agony, with its prayers, its entrances 
and exits, when the only disciples present are alleged 
to have been asleep ? 

It is the inconceivable omission of the exegetes 
to face such problems that forces us finally to insist 
on their serious inadequacy in this regard. They 
laboriously conduct an investigation up to the point 
at which it leaves us, more certainly than ever, 
facing the incredible, and there they leave it. Their 
work is done. That the story of the Last Night 
was never framed as a narrative, but is primarily 
a drama, which the Gospel simply transcribes, is 
manifest in every section, and is definitely proved 
by the verses (Mk. xiv, 41-42) in which, without an 
intervening exit, Jesus says: ''Sleep oji now, and 

take your rest Arise, let us be going." The 

moment the document is realized to be a transcript 
of a drama it becomes clear that the " Sleep on 

1 Manual of Introd. to the N. r.,Eng. tr. 1888, ii, 261. 



60 THE HISTOEICAL JESUS 

now, and take your rest " should be inserted before 
the otherwise speechless exit in verse 40, where the 
text says that '* they wist not what to answer him." 
Two divergent speeches have by an oversight in 
transcription been fused into one. 

That the story of the tragedy is a separate com- 
position has been partly perceived by critics of 
different schools without drawing any elucidating 
inference. Wellhausen pronounces that the Passion 
cannot be excepted from the verdict that Mark as 
a whole lacks the character of history. " Nothing 
is motived and explained by preliminaries." ^ But 
** we learn as much about the week in Jerusalem as 
about the year m Galilee." '^ And the Eev. Mr. 
Wright gets further, though following a wrong 
track : — 

The very fact that S. Mark devotes six chapters 
out of sixteen to events which took place in the 
precincts of Jerusalem makes me suspicious. Im- 
portant though the passion was, it seems to be 
narrated at undue length. The proportions of the 
history are destroyed.^ 

Precisely. The story of the events in Jerusalem is 
no proper part either of a primary document or of 
the first or second Gospel. In its detail it has no 
congruity with the scanty and incoherent narrative 
of Mark. It is of another provena^ice, although, as 
Wellhausen notes, quite as unhistorical as the rest. 
The non-historicity of the entire action is as plain 
as in the case of any episode in the Gospels. Judas 



Einleiiung, p. 51. ^ Id. p. 49. 

3 Some N. T. Problems, 1898, p. 176. 



THE VISIONAEY EVANGEL 61 

is paid to betray a man who could easily have been 
arrested without any process of betrayal ; and the 
conducting of the trial immediately upon the arrest, 
throughout the night, the very witnesses being 
" sought for " in the darkness, is plain fiction, 
explicable only by the dramatic obligation to con- 
tinuous action. 



Chapter VII 

THE ALLEGED CONSENSUS OF 
SCHOLAKS 

Such is the historical impasse at which open-minded 
students find themselves when they would finally 
frame a reasoned conception of the origin of the 
Christian religion. The documentary analysis having 
yielded results which absolutely repel the accepted 
tradition, however denuded of supernaturalism, we 
are driven to seek a solution which shall be com- 
patible with the data. And some of us, after spend- 
ing many years in shaping a sequence which should 
retain the figure of the Founder and his twelve 
disciples, have found ourselves forced step by step 
to the conclusion that these are all alike products of 
myth, intelligible and explicable only as such. And 
when, in absolute loyalty to all the clues, with no 
foregone conclusions to support — unless the rejection 
of supernaturalism be counted such — we tentatively 
frame for ourselves a hypothesis of a remote origin 
in a sacramental cult of human sacrifice, with a 
probable Jesus-God for its centre in Palestine, we 
are not surprised at being met by the kind of 
explosion that has met every step in the disintegra- 
tion of traditional beliefs from Copernicus to Darwin. 
The compendious Mr. Sinclair, who makes no pre- 

62 



ALLEGED CONSENSUS OF SGHOLAES 63 

tension to have read any of the works setting forth 

the new theories, thus describes them : — 

The arguments of Baconians and mythomaniaes 
are alike made up of the merest blunders as to fact 
and the sheerest misunderstanding of the meaning 
of facts. Grotesque etymologies/ arbitrary and 
tasteless emendations of texts, forced parallels, un- 
restrained license of conjecture, the setting of con- 
jecture above reasonably established fact, chains of 
argument in which every link is of straw, appeals 
to anti-theological bias and to the miserable egotism 
which sees heroes with the eyes of the valet — these 
are some of the formidable " evidences " in deference 
to which we are asked to reverse the verdicts of 
tradition, scholarship, and common sense. They 
have never imposed on anyone fairly conversant 
with the facts. Those who have not such know- 
ledge may either simply appeal to the authority of 
scholars, OE, BETTER STILL, SUPPORT that authority 
by exercizing their own IMAGINATION AND COMMON 
SENSE. 

That tirade has seemed to me worth preserving. 
It is perhaps a monition to scholars, whose function 
is something higher than vituperation, to note how 
their inadequacies are sought to be eked out by zeal 
without either scholarship or judgment, and, finally, 
without intellectual sincerity. The publicist who 
alternately tells the unread that they ought to accept 
the verdict of scholars, and that it is " better still " 

^ I have wasted a good deal of time in reading and in confuting 
the Baconians, but only in one or two of them have I met with any 
etymologies. Their doctrine had no such origin, and in no way 
rests on etymologies. Not once have I seen in their books an 
appeal to anti-theological bias, and hardly ever an emendation, 
though there are plenty of "forced parallels." Nor are etymolo- 
gies primary elements in any form of the myth theory. Mr. Sinclair 
seems to " unpack his mouth with words " in terms of a Shake- 
spearean formula. 



64 THE HISTOEICAL JESUS 

to '' support " that verdict by unaided " imagination 
and common sense," has given us once for all his 
moral measure. 

Dismissing him as having served his turn in illus- 
trating compendiously the temper which survives 
in Unitarian as in Trinitarian traditionalism, we 
may conclude this preliminary survey with a com- 
ment on the proposition that we should take the 
*' verdict of scholars." It has been put by men, 
themselves scholars in other fields, whom to bracket 
with Mr. Sinclair would be an impertinence. But 
I have always been puzzled by their attitude. They 
proceed upon three assumptions, which are all alike 
delusions. The first is that there is a consensus of 
scholars on the details of this problem. The second 
is that the professional scholars have a command of 
a quite recondite knowledge as regards the central 
issue. The third is that there is such a thing as 
professional expertise in the diagnosis of Gods, Demi- 
gods, and real Founders in rehgious history. Once 
more, the nature of the problem has not been 
realized. 

Let us take first the case of a real scholar in the 
strictest sense of the term. Professor Gustaf Dalman, 
of Leipzig, author of " The Words of Jesus, con- 
sidered in the light of Post-Bibhcal Jewish Writings 
and the Aramaic Language." ^ To me. Professor 
Dalman appears to be an expert of high competence, 
alike in Hebrew and Aramaic — a double qualification 
possessed by very few of those to whose "verdigt" 

1 Eng. trans, by Prof. D. M. Kay, 1902, 



ALLEGED CONSENSUS OF SCHOLARS 65 

we are told to bow. By his account few previous 
experts in the same field have escaped bad mis- 
carriages, as a handful of excerpts will show : — 

M. Friedmann, Onkelos und Akylas, 1896, still 
holds fast to the traditional opinion that even Ezra 
had an Aramaic version of the Tora. In this he is 
mistaken. 

H. Laible, in Dalman-Laible's Jesus Christ in the 
Talmud, etc., incorrectly refers it [the phrase 
" bastard of a wedded wife "] to Jesus. The dis- 
cussion treats merely of the definition of the term 
" bastard." 

Adequate proof for all three parts of this assertion 
[A. Neubauer's as to the use of Aramaic in parts of 
Palestine] is awanting. 

F. Blass characterizes as Aramaisms idioms 

which in some cases are equally good Hebraisms, 
and in others are pure Hebraisms and not Aramaisms 
at all. 

P. W. Schmiedel does not succeed in reaching 

any really tenable separation of Aramaisms and 
Hebraisms. 

Resch entirely abandons the region of what is 

linguistically admissible And the statement of 

the same writer that this " belongs very specially 

to the epic style of narration in the Old Testament " 
is incomprehensible. 

The idioms discussed above show at once the 

incorrectness of Schmiedel's contention that the 
narrative style of the Gospels and the Acts is the 
best witness of the Greek that was spoken among 
the Jews. The fact is that the narrative sections 
of the Synoptists have more Hebretu features than 
the discourses of Jesus communicated by them. 

Such a book as Wiinsche's Neue Beitrdge, by 
reason of quite superficial and inaccurate assertions 
and faulty translations, must even be characterized 
as directly misleading and confusing. 

The want of due precaution in the use made of 

F 



66 THE HISTORICAL JESUS 

[the Jerusalem Targums of the Pentateuch] by 
J. T. Marshall is one of the things which were bound 
to render his efforts to reproduce the " Aramaic 
Gospel" a failure. 

Harnack supposes it to be an ancient Jewish 
conception that ** everything of genuine value which 
successively appears upon earth has its existence in 
heaven — i.e., it exists with God — meaning in the 
cognition of God, and therefore really." But this 
idea must be pronounced thoroughly un-Jewish, at 
all events un-Palestinian, although the medieval 
Kabbala certainly harbours notions of this sort. 

Holtzmann thereby evinces merely his own 

ignorance of Jewish legal processes. 

Especially must his [E. H. Charles's] attempts 
at retranslation [of the Assumptio Mosis] be pro- 
nounced almost throughout a failure. 

[Even in thfe pertinent observations of Wellhausen 
and Nestle] we feel the absence of a careful separa- 
tion of Hebrew and Aramaic possibilities He 

[Wellhausen] must be reminded that the Jewish 
literature to this day is still mainly composed in 
Hebrew. 

These may suffice to illustrate the point. Few 
of the other experts escape Dalman's Ithuriel spear ; 
and as he frankly confesses past blunders of his own, 
it is not to be doubted that some of the others have 
returned his thrusts.^ Supposing then that this 
body of experts, so many of them deep in Aramaic, 
so opposed to each other on so many issues clearly 
within the field of their special studies, were to 
unite in affirming the historicity of the Gospel 

^ Wellhausen notably does — Einleitung in die drei ersten Evan- 
gelien, 1905, pp. 39-41. Dr. R. H. Charles, who in his masterly 
introduction to the Assumption of Moses indicates so many blunders 
of German scholars, may be reckoned quite able to criticize Dalman 
io his turn. 



ALLEGED CONSENSUS OF SGHOLAES 67 

Jesus, what would their consensus signify ? Simply 
that they were agreed in affirming the unknown, 
the improbable, and the unprovable, while they 
disputed over the known. Their special studies do 
not give them the slightest special authority to 
pronounce upon such an issue. It is one of historic 
inference upon a mass of data which they among 
them have made common property so far as it was 
not so already, in the main documents and in 
previous literature. Dalman, who takes for granted 
the historicity of Jesus and apparently of the tradi- 
tion in general, pronounces (p. 9) that 

the actual discourses of Jesus in no way give the 
impression that He had grown up in rural solitude 
and seclusion. It is true only that He, like the 
Galileans generally in that region, luould have little 
contact with literary erudition. 

If Professor Dalman cannot see that the proposi- 
tion in the first sentence is extremely disturbing to 
the traditional belief in its Unitarian form, and that 
the second is a mere petitio prmcipii which cannot 
save the situation, other people can see it. His 
scholarship gives him no " eminent domain " over 
logic; and it does not require a knowledge of 
Aramaic to detect the weakness of his reasoning. 
Fifty experts in Aramaic carry no weight for a 
thinking man on such a non-linguistic issue; and 
he who defers to them as if they did is but throwing 
away his birthright. When again Dalman writes 
(p. 60) that *' Peter must have appeared (Acts x, 24) 
from a very early date as a preacher in the Greek 
language," he again raises an insoluble problem for 



68 THE HISTOEICAL JESUS 

the traditionalists of all schools, and his scholarly- 
status is quite irrelevant to that. 

When, yet again, he writes (p. 71) that ** what is 
firmly established is only the fact that Jesus spoke 
in Aramaic to the Jews," his mastery of Aramaic 
has nothing to do with the case. He is merely 
taking for granted the historicity of the main tradi- 
tion; and until he faces the problems he has 
ignored (having, as he may fairly claim, been 
occupied with others), and repelled the criticisms 
which that tradition incurs, his vote on the 
unconsidered issue has no more value to a rational 
judgment than any other. I have seldom read a 
scholarly treatise more satisfying than his within 
its special field, or more provocative of astonishment 
at the extent to which specialism can close men's 
eyes to the problems which overlap or underlie theirs. 
' And that is the consideration that has to be 
realized by those who talk of scholarship (meaning 
simply what is called New Testament scholarship) 
settling a historical problem which turns upon 
anthropology, mythology, hierology, psychology, and 
literary and historical science in general. On these 
sides the scholars in question, '' Wir Gelehrten vom 
Fach," as the German specialists call themselves in 
the German manner, are not experts at all, not even 
amateurs, inasmuch as they have never even realized 
that those other sciences are involved. They have 
fallen into the role of the pedant, properly so-called, 
who presumes to regulate life by inapplicable 
knowledge. And even those who are wholly free 
of this presumptuous pedantry, the sober, courteous, 



ALLEGED CONSENSUS OF SCHOLARS 69 

and sane scholars like Professor Schmiedel, whose 
candour enables him to contribute a preface to 
such a book as Professor W. B. Smith's Der 
VORCHRISTLICHE Jesus, to whose thesis he does 
not assent — even these, as we have seen, can fail to 
realize the scope of the problem to the discussion of 
which they have contributed. 

Professor Schmiedel's careful argument from 
" derogatory " episodes in the gospel of Mark, be it 
repeated, is not merely inconclusive ; it elicits a 
rebuttal which turns it into a defeat. Inadequate 
even on the textual side, it is wholly fallacious on 
the hierological and the mythological ; and no more 
than the ordinary conservative polemic does it 
recognize the sociological problem involved. For 
those who seek to study history comprehensively 
and comprehendingly, the residuum of the conserva- 
tive case is a blank incredibihty. Even Dalman, 
after the closest linguistic and literary analysis, 
has left the meaning of *' the Kingdom of God " 
a conundrum ; ^ and the conservative case finally 
consists in asserting that Christianity as a public 
movement arose in the simple announcement of 
that conundrum — the mere utterance of the formula 
— throughout Palestine by a body of twelve apostles, 
who for the rest *' cast out devils," as instructed 
by their Teacher. The " scholarship " which 
contentedly rests facing that vacuous conception is 
a scholarship not qualified finally to handle a great 
historical problem as such. It conducts itself 

* Cp. Schechter, Some Aspects of Rabbinic TJieology, 1909, 
pp. 65-66. 



70 THE HISTOEIOAL JESUS 

exactly as did Biblical scholarship so long in face 
of the revelations of geology, and as did Hebrew 
scholarship so long over the problem of the 
Tabernacle in the wilderness. 

Deeply learned men, in the latter case, went on 
for generations solemnly re-writing history in the 
terms of the re-arranged documents, when all the 
while the history was historic myth — perceptible as 
such to a Zulu who had lived in a desert. And 
when the Zulu's teacher proved the case by simple 
arithmetic, he met at the hands alike of pedants and 
of pietists a volley of malignant vituperation, the 
''religious" expert Maurice excelling many of the 
most orthodox in the virulence of his scorn ; while 
the pontifical Arnold, from the Olympian height of 
his amateurism, severely lectured Colenso for not 
having written in Latin. 

Until the scholars and the amateurs alike renounce 
their own presumption, their thrice stultified airs of 
finality, their estimate of their prejudice and their 
personal equation as a revelation from within, and 
their sacerdotal conviction that their science is the 
science of every case, they will have to be unkindly 
reminded that they are but blunderers like other 
men, that in their own specialties they convict each 
other of errors without number, and that the only 
path to truth is that of the eternal free play and 
clash of all manner of criticism. It is an excep- 
tionally candid orthodox scholar who writes : *' It is 
a law of the human mind that combating error is the 
best way to advance knowledge. They who have 
never joined in controversy have no firm grasp of 



ALLEGED CONSENSUS OF SCHOLAES 71 

truth. Hateful and unchristian as theological 
disputes are apt to become, they have this merit, 
that they open our eyes."^ Let the conservative 
disputants then be content to put their theses and 
their arguments like other men, to meet argument 
with argument when they can, and to hold their 
peace when they have nothing better to add than 
boasts and declamation. 

Before the end of the nineteenth century the very 
school which we are asked to regard as endowed 
with quasi-papal powers in matters of historical 
criticism was declared by one of its leading repre- 
sentatives in Germany to have been on a wrong track 
for fifty years. In the words of Professor Blass : — 

Professor Harnack, in his most recent publication, 
even while stating that now the tide has turned, and 
that theology, after having strayed in the darkness 
and led others into darkness (see Matt, xv, 14) for 
about fifty years, has now got a better insight into 
things, and has come to a truer appreciation of the 
real trustworthiness of tradition, still puts Mark's 
gospel between 65 and 70 A.D., Matt^iew's between 
70 and 75, but Luke's much later, about 78-93.^ 

And Blass, who dates Luke 56 or 60, goes on : — 
Has that confessedly untrustworthy guide of 
laymen, scientific theology, after so many errors 
committed during fifty years, now of a sudden 
become a trustworthy one? Or have we good 
reason to mistrust it as much, or even more than 
we had before? In ordinary life no sane person 
would follow a guide who confessed to having grossly 
misled him during the whole former part of the 
journey. Evidently that guide was either utterly 

^ Rev. A. Wright, Some New Testament Problems, p. 212. 
^ Blass, Philology of the Oospels, 1898, p. 35. 



72 THE HISTOEICAL JESUS 

ignorant of the way, or he had some views and aims 
of his own, of which the traveller was unaware, and 
he cannot be assumed now to have acquired a full 
knowledge, or to have laid those view^s and aims 
wholly aside. 

Thus does one Gelehrter vom Fach estimate the 
pretensions of a whole sanhedrim of another Fach. 
Blass is a philologist ; and incidentally v^e have 
seen hov7 another philologist, Dalman, handles him 
in that capacity. Elsewhere, after another fling at 
the theological scholars — with a salvo of praise to 
Harnack for his Lukas der Arzt — and a comment 
on the fashion in which every German critic swears 
by his master, he avows that " we classical philolo- 
gists have seen similar follies among ourselves 

in fair number."^ It is most true; and the philolo- 
gists are as much divided as the theologians. 

Of course, it is not by philology that Blass has 
reached the standpoint from which he can contemn 
the professional theologians. He is really on the 
same ground as they, making the same primary 
assumptions of historicity : the only difference is 
that while they, following the same historical 
tradition, yet scruple to accept prophecies as having 
been actually made at the time assigned to them, 
and feel bound to date the prophecy after the 
event, the consistent philologist recognizes no such 
obligation in the present instance, and puts a 
rather adroit but very unscholarly argument on the 
subject, with which we shall have to deal later. 
But for those to whom the exact dating of the 

^ Die Entstehung unci der CharaTiter unserer Evangelien, 1907, p. 9. 



ALLEGED CONSENSUS OF SCHOLAES 73 

Gospels is a subsidiary problem, his argument has 
only a subsidiary interest ; and the fact that he 
unquestioningly agrees with his flouted theological 
colleagues in accepting the historicity of Jesus gives 
no importance to their consensus. 

If, as he says, they are in the mass utterly 
untrustworthy guides on any historical issue (an 
extravagance to which, as a layman, I do not 
subscribe), their agreement can be of no value to 
him where he and they coincide. After telling 
Harnack that men who have confessedly been astray 
for fifty years have no right to expect to be listened 
to, he makes much of Harnack' s support as to the 
historicity of the Acts — a course which will not 
impose upon thoughtful readers. All the while, of 
course, Professor Blass is simply applying a revised 
historical criticism to a single issue or set of issues, 
and even if he chance to be right on these he has 
set up no new historical method. No more than 
the others has he recognized the central historical 
problem; and he must be well aware that that 
reversion to tradition announced by Harnack, and 
at this point acquiesced in by him, cannot for a 
moment be maintained as a general critical 
principle in regard to the New Testament any 
more than in regard to the Old. All that he can 
claim is that many theologians have confessedly 
blundered seriously on historical problems. But 
that is quite enough to justify us in admonishing 
the mere middlemen and the experts alike to 
change the tone of absurd assurance with which 
they meet further innovations of historical theory. 



Chaptek VIII 

CONSEEVATIVE POSITIONS 

It is only just to confess that the conservatives are 
already learning to employ some prudential expe- 
dients. Met by the challenge to their own nakedly 
untenable positions, and offered a constructive hypo- 
thesis, diversely elaborated from various quarters, 
they mostly evade the discussion at nearly every 
point where the impossible tradition is concretely 
confronted by a thinkable substitute, and spend 
themselves over the remoter issues of universal 
mythology. Habitually misrepresenting every argu- 
ment from comparative mythology as an assertion 
of a historical sequence in the compared data, they 
expatiate over questions of etymology, and are loud 
in their outcry over a suggestion that a given 
historical sequence may be surmised from data 
more or less obscure. But to the question how the 
evangel could possibly have begun as the record 
represents, or how the consummation could possibly 
have taken place as described, they either attempt 
no answer whatever or offer answers which are 
worse than evasions. One professional disputant, 
dealing with the proposition that such a judicial 
and police procedure as the systematic search for 
witnesses described in the Gospel story of the Trial 
could not take place by night, " when an Eastern 

74 



CONSEEVATIVE POSITIONS 75 

city is as a city of the dead," did not scruple to say 
that the thesis amounted to saying that in an 
Eastern city nothing could happen by night. This 
controversialist is an instructor of youth, and claims 
to be an instructed scholar. And his is the only 
answer that I have seen to the challenge with which 
it professes to deal. Loisy agrees that the challenge 
cannot be met. 

To the hypothesis that there was a pre-Christian 
cult of a Jesus-God, the traditionalist — above all, the 
Unitarian, who seems to feel the pinch here most 
acutely — retorts with a volley of indignant contempt. 
He can see no sign of any such cult. In the mind's 
eye he can see, as a historic process, twelve Apostles 
creating a Christian community by simply crying 
aloud that the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand, 
excommunicating for the after life those who will 
not listen, and all the while assiduously casting out 
devils. His records baldly tell him that this hap- 
pened ; and " we believe in baptism because we 
have seen it done." But whereas, in the nature 
of the case, the reconstruction of the real historic 
process must be by tentative inference from a 
variety of data which for the most part the records 
as a matter of course obscured, he makes loud play 
with the simple fact that the records lack the 
required clear mention, and brands as " unsupported 
conjecture " the theorem offered in place of the 
plain untruth with which he has so long been 
satisfied. 

In his own sifted and " primitive " records we 
have the narration of the carrying of the Divine 



76 THE HISTOEICAL JESUS 

Man to a height ("pinnacle of the temple " onlij in 
the supposed primitive Gospel) by Satan for purposes 
of temptation. For a mythologist this myth easily 
falls into line as a variant of the series of Pan and 
the young Zeus at the altar on the mountain top, 
Pan and Apollo competing on the top of Mount 
Tmolus, Apollo and Marsyas, all deriving from the 
Babylonian figures of the Goat-God (Capricorn) and 
the Sun-God on the Mountain of the World, repre- 
senting the starting of the sun on his yearly course. 
That assignment explains at once the Pagan myths 
and the Christian, which is thus shown to have 
borrowed from the myth material of the Greco- 
Oriental world in an early documentary stage. 
Challenged to evade that solution, he mentions only 
the Pan-Zeus story, says nothing of the series of 
variants or of the Babylonian original, and replies 
that he is 

unable to trace any real and fundamental connection 
between the stories. In the Buddhist narrative 
[which had been cited as an analogue^] the '* temp- 
tation " to satisfy the cravings of hunger, the prompt- 
ings of ambition, and the doubts as to the overruling 
Providence of God, are all wanting. In the Eoman 
story, too, Pan, as representing in satyr-form the 



^ With the customary bad faith of the orthodox apologist, Dr. 
Thorburn represents as a sudden change of thesis the proposition 
that " the Christian narrative is merely an ethical adaptation of the 
Greek story," because that proposition follows on the remark that 
the Christian myth " might fairly be regarded " [as it actually has 
been] " as a later sophistication " of the Buddhist myth. On this 
"might" there had actually followed, in the text quoted, the state- 
ment: " There are fairly decisive reasons, however, for concluding 
that the Christian story was evolved on another line." This 
sentence Dr. Thorburn conceals from his readers. There had been 
no change of thesis whatever. 



CONSERVATIVE POSITIONS 77 

lower and animal propensities of man, is a very 
differerit being to the Hebreiv Satan ; moreover, there 
is no tempting of Jupiter, as there is of Jesus. 
Jupiter, likewise, is wholly a god ; Jesus is a sorely 
bested Man, although divine. There is, in short, 
not the least affinity between any of these narra- 
tives beyond the general idea of trial/ 

And this figures as a refutation. For our tradi- 
tionalist, comparative mythology does not and cannot 
exist ; for him there can be no fundamental connec- 
tion between any two nominal myths unless they 
are absolutely identical in all their details ; and the 
goat-footed Pan and the goat-footed Satan (certainly 
descended from the Goat-God Azazel) are merely 
** very different beings," though Satan for the later 
Jews and Jesuists actually corresponded to Pan 
(who is not a mere satyr for the Greeks) not only in 
being the spirit of concupiscence^ but in being "the 
God of this world," as the Gospel myth in effect 
shows him to be. And this exhibition of ignorance 
of every principle of mythology passes for " scholar- 
ship," and will be duly so certificated by Sir William 
Eobertson Nicoll, who undertakes to preside in that 
department, as in politics, with about equal qualifi- 
cations. 

By way of constructive solution of the problem 
we have from the apologist this : — 

If a conjecture may be hazarded here, we should 
be inclined to say that the Christian narrative 

^ Rev. Dr. T. J. Thorburn, Jesus the Christ : Historical or 
Mythical ?, p. 231. 

^ Dr. Thorburn appears to be wholly unaware of this fact of 
Jewish theology. See Dr. Schechter's Some Aspects of Rabbinic 
Theology, 1909, ch. xv ; Kalisch, Comm. on Leviticus, ii, 304. 



78 THE HISTORICAL JESUS 

largely presents, in picturesque and symbolic form, 
the subjective experiences and doubts of Jesus — 
lohether these were of internal origin merely, or were 
suggested externally by some malignant spiritual 
being — as to His capacities and power for the great 
work which He had undertaken. 

The thoroughly orthodox, it would appear, must 
still be catered for, albeit only by the concession of 
the possibility of " some " malignant spiritual being, 
which seems a gratuitous slight to the canonical 
Satan, whose moral dignity had immediately before 
been acclaimed. But, after expressly insisting on 
the elements of "temptation" and "ambition" in 
the story, with the apparent implication that the 
young Teacher may have had a passing ambition 
to become a world conqueror, our exegete, in con- 
clusion, collapses to the position of the German 
exegetes who, the other day, were still debating on 
the spiritual interpretation of what they could not 
perceive to be a pure myth of art. 

At this stage of enlightenment we hear allusions 
to "psychology," though I have not yet met with 
any explicit pretence that the traditionalist scholars 
know anything about psychology that is not known 
to the rest of us. In any case, the suggestion may 
be hazarded that the first researches they make 
into psychology might usefully be directed to their 
own, which is a distressing illustration of the survival 
of the intellectual methods of the ancient apologists 
for the Yedas and for the mythology of the Greeks. 

A severe scrutiny of psychic processes is indeed 
highly necessary in this as in so many other disputes 
in which the affections wrestle with the reason. 



CONSERVATIVE POSITIONS 79 

Such a process of analysis gives us the real causa- 
tion of the testimony borne by Mill, which is so 
widely typical. For non-religious as for religious 
minds the conception they form of the Gospel 
Jesus is commonly a resultant of a few dominant 
impressions, varying in each case but all cognate. 
Jesus is figured first to the recipient spirit as a 
blessed babe in the arms of an idealized mother, 
and last as dying on the cross, cruelly tortured for 
no crime — the supreme example of the martyred 
philanthropist. In the interim he figures as com- 
manding his dull disciples to " Suffer little children 
to come unto me," and as " going about doing good," 
all the while preaching forgiveness and brotherly 
love. No knowledge of the impossibility of most 
of the particularized cures will withhold even in- 
structed men from soothing their sensibilities by 
crediting the favourite figure with some vague 
" healing power " and talking of the possibilities of 
" faith healing," even as they loosely accredit some 
elevating quality, some practical purport, to the 
visionary evangel, so absolutely mythical that the 
Gospel writers can tell us not a word of its matter. 

Even Professor Schmiedel, expressly applying the 
tests of naturalism, negates those tests at the 
outset by taking for granted the Teacher's possession 
of un quantified " psychic " healing powers, though 
the narratives twenty times tell of cures which 
cannot possibly be described as cases of faith- 
healing.^ If for the sane inquirer the absolute 

^ The Nemesis of this uncritical method appears in its develop- 
ment at the hands of Dr. Conybeare ; " That Jesus was a successful 



80 THE HISTOEICAL JESUS 

miracle stories are false, and these stories are false, 
by what right does he allot evidential value to 
wholesale allegations of multitudinous cures from 
the same sources? By the sole right of his 
predilections. The measure which he metes to the 
thousand prodigies in Livy is never meted to those 
of the Gospels. For him, these are different things, 
being seen in another atmosphere. 

In men concerned to be intellectually law-abiding, 
these dialectic divagations are decently veiled; by 
others they are passionately flaunted. No recollec- 
tion of the anger of Plato at those who denied that 
the Sun and Planets were divine and blessed beings 
can withhold certain professed scholars from the 
same angry folly in a similar predicament. But 
even where theological animus has been in a 
manner disciplined by the long professional battle 
over documentary problems, the sheer lack of 
logical challenge on fundamental issues has left all 
the disputants alike, down till the other day, taking 
for granted data to which they had no critical right. 

Throughout the whole debate, even in the case 
of scholars who profess to be loyal to induction, we 
find that there is a presupposition upon which 
induction has no effect. Bernhard Weiss, quoting 
from Holtzmann the profoundly subversive proposi- 
tion that " Christianity has been * book-learning ' 
from the beginning," in reply ''can only say, God 

exorcist we need not doubt, nor that he worked innumerable faith 
cures" {Myth, Magic, and Morals, 2nd. ed., p. 142). Such a 
writer "need not doubt" anything he wants to believe. In 
particular he "need not doubt " that the disciples w§pe "successful 
exorcists " also. 



CONSEEVATIVE POSITIONS 81 

be praised that it is not so." Yet the real effect of his 
own research is to show us much — to show that there 
was no oral evangel, that the formula of '' the king- 
dom of heaven " is but a phrase to fill a blank. Even 
candid inquirers who see the difficulty, like Samuel 
Davidson, leave it unsolved. Says Davidson : — 

When we try to form a correct view of Jesus's 
utterances regarding this Kingdom of God, we find 
they have much vagueness and ambiguity. Their 
differences also in the Synoptic Gospels and the 
fourth are so apparent that the latter must be left 
out of account in any attempt to get a proper sketch 
of Jesus's hopes. His apostles and other early 
reporters misunderstood some of His sayings, making 
them crasser. Oral tradition marred their original 
form. This is specially the case with respect to the 
enthusiastic hopes about the kingdom He looked 
for. But as the ideal did not become actual we 
must rest in the great fact that the Christianity He 
introduced was the nucleus of a perfect system 
adapted to universal humanity.^ 

"We must" do no such thing. We "must" 
draw a licit inference. The alleged great fact is 
morally a chimera, and historically a hallucination. 
To admit that all the evidence collapses, and then 
to posit the visionary gospel with a " must," is to 
abandon critical principle. The "must" is simply 
the eternal presupposition. And the choice of the 
sincere student "must" be between that negation 
of science and a fresh scientific search, from which 
the presupposition, as such, is excluded. If it can 
reappear as a hcit conclusion, so be it. But it has 
never yet so arisen. 

1 Introd. totheN.T.,Brd.e6L.,i,4:. 



Chaptee IX 

BLASS AND FLINDEES PETKIE 

A VERY interesting attempt to bring the synoptic 
problem to a new critical test has latterly been 
made by Dr. Flinders Petrie in his work, The 
Growth of the Gospels as shown by Struc- 
tural Criticism (1910). His starting point is the 
likelihood that logia, analogous to the non-canonical 
fragments discovered in recent years, were the 
original material from which the , Gospels were 
built up. The hypothesis is prima facie quite 
legitimate, there being nothing to repel it. As he 
contends, there is now evidence that writing was in 
much more common use in some periods of antiquity 
than scholars had formerly supposed ; and scraps of 
writing by non-scholarly persons, he argues, may 
have been widely current in the environment with 
which we are concerned. All the while he is 
founding on data from the Egypt of the third 
century for a Palestinian environment of the first ; 
and he is obliged to stress the point that Matthew 
the tax-gatherer was a "professional scribe," while 
his argument runs that Matthew used the detached 
jottings of other people, not his own. But let us 
follow out his thesis : — 

We cannot doubt [writes Dr. Petrie] that such 
was the course of growth when we look at the 

82 



BLASS AND FLINDEES PETEIE 83 

logia. Those collections of brief sayings could 
hardly have come into existence if full narratives 
and sufficient standards of information in the Gospels 
were already circulating. They belong essentially 
to a preparatory age, when records were in course 
of compilation. But, once written out, they 
naturally survived side by side with the Gospels, 
which had only used a portion of their material.^ 

It is not quite clear whether Dr. Petrie meant here 
to claim not only that the so-called Logia Iesou 
pubHshed in 1897 and 1904 are anterior to and 
independent of the Gospels (though found only in 
third-century MSS.), but that they are on the same 
footing of credibility with the Gospels. This, how- 
ever, seems inevitably to follow from his position, 
though it appears to suggest to him no difficulty 
about the general historicity of the Gospel story, 
which he too takes for granted. Let us then note 
the problems raised. 

A main feature of Dr. Petrie's inquiry is that, 
following Professor Blass, he insists on making the 
predictions of the fall of Jerusalem part of the early 
documentary matter collected in the ''Nucleus" 
which for him is the equivalent of Weiss's Primitive 
Gospel. The argument of Blass ^ is drawn from the 
case of Savonarola, who in 1496 predicted that Kome 
would be sacked, and that horses would be stabled 
in the churches, as actually happened in the year 
1527. If such a prophecy could be made and 

^ Work cited, p. 7. 

^ Put in the Neue Kirchliche Zeitschrift, 1896, p. 964 sq.; and 
Philology of the Gospels, 1898, pp. 41-43. Professor Blass has 
worked this argument diligently. See his Die Entstehung und der 
Charakter unserer Evangelien, 1907, p. 24. 



84 THE HISTOEIOAL JESUS 

fulfilled in one case, urges Blass, it might be in 
another ; hence there can be no rigorous application 
of the canon, Omne vaticinium post eventum, which 
has been relied on by the modern school of critical 
theologians. Dr. Petrie appears to have made no 
investigation of his own, being content to quote and 
support Blass ; and the point is well worth critical 
consideration. 

Let us premise that scientific criticism, which 
has no concern with Unitarian predilections, stands 
quite impartially towards the question of Gospel 
dates. The modern tendency to carry down those 
dates, either for the whole or for any parts of the 
Gospels, towards or into the second century, is 
originally part of the general " liberal " inclination 
to put a Man in place of a God, though some 
believers in the God acquiesce as to the lateness of 
the act of writing. Those who have carried on the 
movement have always presupposed the general 
historicity of the Teacher, and have been concerned, 
however unconsciously, to find a historical solution 
which saved that presupposition. The rational 
critic, making only the naturalist presupposition, is 
committed to no set of documentary dates. And 
he is not at all committed to the denial that an 
inductive historic prediction, as distinguished from 
a supernaturalist prophecy, may be made and ful- 
filled. Many have been. Much has been said of 
the " marvellous prescience " of Burke in predicting 
that the anarchy of the French Eevolution would 
end in a tyranny. He was in fact merely inferring, 
as he well might, that what had happened in the 



BLASS AND FLINDEKS PETEIE 85 

history of ancient Eome and in the history of 
England would happen in France. By a similar 
historical method several French and other writers 
in the eighteenth century reached the forecast of 
the revolt of the American colonies from Britain 
without getting any credit for divine inspiration. 
And so, perhaps, might Savonarola at the end of 
the fifteenth century predict a sack of Kome, and 
a Jew in the first century a sack of Jerusalem. 

But let us see what Savonarola actually did. He 
was, so to speak, a professional prophet, and while 
he predicted not only a sack of Eome but his own 
death by violence, he also, by the admission of 
sympathetic biographers, put forth many vaticina- 
tions of an entirely fantastic character. Here again 
he might very well have a Jewish prototype. For 
us the first question is, What did he actually predict 
in history, and how and why did he predict it ? In 
1494 he seems to have predicted the French invasion 
which took place in that year. Villari asserts that 
he did so in the sermons he preached in Lent, but 
admits that "it is impossible to ascertain the precise 
nature " of the sermons in question.^ Father Lucas 
goes further, and points out that there is no trace 
in them of the alleged prophecy^ which Savonarola 
in his Compendium Bevelationum (1495) claims to 
have made but does not date. Villari further admits 
that the sermons of that year are so badly reported 



^ Villari, Life of Savonarola, Eng. trans. 1-vol. ed. p. 185. 

2 Herbert Lucas, S.J., Fra Girolamo Savonarola, 2nd ed. 1906, 
p. 116. Father Lucas does not deny that such a sermon might 
possibly have been preached late in 1493. Cp. p. 118. 



86 THE HISTOEICAL JESUS 



as to have lost almost every characteristic of 
Savonarola's style. Their reporter, unable to keep 
pace with the preacher's words, only jotted down 
rough and fragmentary notes. These were after- 
wards translated into barbarous dog-Latin — by way 
of giving them a more literary form — and published 
in Venice. For this reason Qu^tif and some other 
writers entertained doubts of their authenticity.^ 

Villari nevertheless is satisfied of it on internal 
grounds, and we may accept his estimate. The 
main allegation is that in 1494 Savonarola, v^ho 
had for years been preaching that national sin would 
elicit divine chastisement, 

in those Lenten discourses, and also in some others, 
foretold the coming of a new Cyrus, who would 
march through Italy in triumph, without encounter- 
ing any obstacles, and without breaking a single 
lance. We find numerous records of these predic- 
tions, and the terrors excited by them, in the 
historians and biographers of the period; and Fra 
Benedetto reports his master's words in the follow- 
ing verses [thus literally translated] : — 

Soon shalt thou see each tyrant overthrown, 
And all Italy shalt thou see vanquished, 
To her shame, disgrace, and harm. 
Thou, Eome, shalt soon be captured : 
I see the blade of wrath come upon thee ; 
The time is short, each day flies past : 

My Lord will renovate the Church, 

And cojivert every barbarian people. 

There ivill be but one fold and one shepherd. 

But first Italy will have to mourn. 

And so much of her blood will be shed 

That her people shall everywhere be thinned. 

Life of Savonarola, as cited, p. 186. 



BLASS AND FLINDERS PETRIE 87 

Here there is obvious confusion, apart from the 
fact that the predicted regeneration and unification 
of the church never took place. The invader is to 
do no fighting, and yet so much blood vi^ill be shed 
that everywhere the people of Italy will be thinned. 
Are we, then, to believe that the "Cyrus" predic- 
tion was made at the same time? Is there not 
ground for suspicion that it was interpolated post 
eventum, in the Latin report ? The only alternative 
solution seems to be that Villari or the Italian 
compiler has mixed prophecies of different years. 
In his sermon of November 1, 1494, Savonarola 
speaks of the French invasion as the " scourge " he 
had predicted^ — an odd way of speaking of one 
promised before as ''the Lord's anointed," even 
though the French host is said to be " led by the 
Lord." In any case his own claim to have 
predicted of " Cyrus " is unsupported by evidence, 
and, even if accepted, does not involve a date earlier 
than 1493-4.' 

To predict the invasion of Italy by Charles VIII 
of France in Lent of 1494, or even late in 1493, 
v/as easy enough.^ The invasion had been fully 
prepared, and was expected, even as was the 
Armada in the England of 1588. Savonarola was 
very likely to have inside knowledge of the scheme, 
and the Pope positively charged him with having 
helped to engineer it. Florence in effect received 



1 Villari, p. 214. 

^ See the investigation of Father Lucas, pp. 114-18. 
^ I had written this, and the confutation of Villari, before 
reading the work of Father Lucas. 



THE HISTOEIOAL JESUS 



Charles as a friend. There had been, further, 
abundant discussion of the expedition both in 
France and Italy long before it set out. 
Guicciardini tells that wise Frenchmen were very 
apprehensive about it, and that Ferdinand of 
Naples reckoned that it must fail. Fail it finally 
did. Savonarola might even predict that the 
invader would not be resisted, for there was no 
force ready in Italy to repel that led by Charles, 
with its great train of artillery. It is an extreme 
oversight of Villari's to allege^ that in the autumn, 
" unexpectedly as a thunderclap from a clear sky, 
came the news that a flood of foreign soldiery was 
pouring down from the Alps to the conquest of 

Italy All felt taken unawares." This assertion 

is completely exploded by the record of Guicciardini, 
and no historian will now endorse it. Lodovico 
Sforza, Duke of Milan, had incited Charles to the 
invasion; the preparations had been open and 
extensive ; and they had been abundantly discussed 
both in France and Italy.^ The statement that 
" the Friar alone had foreseen the future " is 
absolute myth. 

The fact remains that the invasion was not 
resisted, and that Kome was " captured " in the 
sense of being entered by Charles, who did no 
military damage and marched out again. But 
when Charles proceeded to withdraw from Italy, 



^ As cited, p. 189. Father Lucas comments more mildly on the 
misstatement ; but it is really a grave departure from historical 
truth. 

^ Cp. Lucas, p. 117 note. 



BLASS AND FLINDEES PETEIE 89 

having effected nothing, a battle was fought and 
won by him. It was two years later that 
Savonarola, acting on his standing doctrine that 
sin in high places must elicit divine vengeance, 
resumed his predictions of disaster to Rome, whose 
Pope was his enemy. As it happened, 1496 was 
again a year of expected invasions. Charles, now 
the ally of Florence, was announced to be preparing 
for a second inroad, and the apprehensive Sforza 
invited and furthered the intervention of the 
emperor Maximilian as he had before invited 
Charles. Predictions were again to be expected ; at 
Bologna at least one was actually made; and the 
prophet, one Raffaele da Firenzuola, was tortured 
and banished.^ Charles gave up his plan, but 
Maximilian came, albeit with a small force, and 
was welcomed by the Pisans. 

It was before the coming of Maximilian^ that 
Savonarola resumed his prophecy of the coming 
scourge in a series of sermons, in one of which he 
announces that Italy will be overwhelmed because 
she is full of sanguinary deeds ; that Rome will be 
besieged and trampled down ; and that because her 
churches have been full of harlots they will be 
made *' stables for horses and swine, the which will 
be less displeasing to God than seeing them made 
haunts of prostitutes Then, Italy, trouble after 



^ Lucas, p. 129 note. 

^ This, again, he might well expect, as he avows that he had 
correspondents in Germany who applauded his attitude towards the 
Papacy. Villari, pp. 439, 619, 609. But Maximilian was invited 
by Sforza in the name of the Papal League, by way of forestalling 
Charles. Id. p. 458. 



90 THE HISTORICAL JESUS 

trouble shall befall thee; troubles of war after 
famine, troubles of pestilence after war." Again, in 
another sermon : " There will not be enough men 
left to bury the dead; nor means enough to dig 

graves The dead will be heaped in carts and 

on horses; they will be piled up and burnt And 

the people shall be so thinned that few shall 
remain." ^ At the same time he repeatedly 
predicted his own death by violence. 

On the latter head he had abundant reason for 
his forecast. On the former it is very certain that 
he was not thinking of something that was not to 
happen for thirty years. Again and again he 
assured his hearers and his correspondents that his 
predictions were to be fulfilled *'in our time." 
Towards the end of 1496 he described himself as 
" The servant of Christ Jesus, sent by him to the 
city of Florence to announce the great scourge 
which is to come upon Italy, and especially upon 
Eome, and which is to extend itself over all the 
world in our days and quickly.'' ^ In 1497, in a 
letter to Lodovico Pittorio, chancellor to d'Este, 
after speaking of the Lord's prediction of the fall 
of Jerusalem, he writes : " Great tribulations are 
always [i.e. in the Scriptures] predicted many years 
before they come. Yet I do not say that the tribu- 
lations which I have foretold will be so long in 
coming ; nay, they will come soon ; indeed I say 
that the tribulation has already commenced.'" ^ 

1 Villari, pp. 411-13. Cp. Perrens's Jerome Savonarole, 1854, ii, 
88 sq., 95 sq.; Lucas, p. 201. 

2 Manifesto A tutti li Christiani ; Lucas, p. 236. ^ Id. p. 256. 



BLASS AND FLINDERS PETEIE 91 

Yet again, in 1498, he claims in a sermon that 
"a part has come to pass," noting that "in Kome 
one has lost a son " — a reference to the murder of 
the Duke of Gandia, son of the Pope ; and adding 
that " you have seen who has died here, and I could 
tell you, an I would, who is in hell " — supposed to 
be a reference to Bernardo del Nero/ All this was 
in terms of Savonarola's theological and Biblical 
conception of things, the ruling political philosophy 
of his age, as of many before. Wickedness and 
injustice, fraud and oppression, were dominant in 
high places, and God must of necessity punish, in 
the fashion in which he was constantly described 
as doing so in the Sacred Books, from the Deluge 
downwards. In Savonarola's view the cup of Kome's 
abominations was full, and punishment had been 
earned by the men then living, in particular by 
Pope Alexander. 

Within two years Savonarola had been put to 
death, after many tortures ; and Alexander died in 
1503 (not by poison, as the tradition goes) without 
having seen the predicted desolation. It was under 
the more respectable of the two Medicean Popes 
that Rome was twice sacked in 1527 by the forces 
of Charles V ; and though there had been infinite 
slaughter and pestilence in Italy, the regeneration 
and reunion of Christendom predicted by Savonarola 
did not follow. When no reform whatever had 
followed on the French invasion he had explained 
that his prediction in that case was subject to 

1 Id. p. 278. 



92 THE HISTORICAL JESUS 

conditions. Yet he announced that his prophecy of 
the conversion of the Turks was unconditional, 
declaring at the close of the Compendium Bevela- 
tionum that it would be fulfilled in fifteen years, 
and assuring his hearers in 1495 that some of them 
would live to see the fulfilment/ 



Lucas, p. 70. 



Chaptee X 

THE SAVONAKOLA FALLACY 

OuE business, of course, is not to expose the 
prophetic miscarriages of Savonarola, but simply 
to make clear what manner of thing his prophesying 
was.^ It was an instance of a kind of vaticination 
as old as Troy and Jerusalem, which had gone on 
in Christendom for centuries. Long before his day 
religious men had predicted wars, pestilences, 
famines, and the conversion of the Turks.^ The 
wars and plagues and famines were very safe 
prognostications : they came in every decade. And 
when we come to his alleged prediction of the sack 
of Eome we realize immediately, not only that the 
one detail of coincidence is wholly fortuitous, but 
that, like his predecessors, he was simply predicting 
a return of common evils already experienced a 
hundred times.^ 

The argument of Blass and others on this topic, 
confidently accepted and endorsed by Dr. Petrie, 
works out as sheer mystification. They lay special 

^ Nor are we here concerned with the question of Savonarola's 
" sincerity." On that head it may be noted that Perrens the 
Rationalist and Lucas the sympathetic and moderate Catholic are 
very much at one. 

^ Lucas, p. 69 note. Compare the references of Lucas and those 
of Villari (p. 317) for researches on the subject. 

^ Cp. Perrens, as cited, ii, 94. 

93 



94 THE HISTORICAL JESUS 

stress on the fact that in the sack of 1527 horses 
were stabled in the charches. It is Hkely enough : 
the same thing has been done a thousand times in 
the wars of Christendom. But the argument has 
been very neghgently conducted. In the first place, 
though he tells of infinitely worse things, such as 
the wholesale violation of women, including nuns, 
the historian Guicciardini does not give the detail 
about the horses. That occurs in the document 
II Sacco di Bo7na, ascribed latterly to his brother 
Luigi, which was first printed m 1664. Still, let 
us assume that the printing was faithful. If an 
interpolator had meant to vindicate Savonarola he 
would presumably have noted that the prophet 
specified not only horses but pigs, whereas the 
narrative says nothing of the latter. We are thus 
left with the item of the stabling of horses in the 
churches. 

Here we have to note that as regards the main 
event Savonarola is predicting a thing that had 
repeatedly happened in Catholic times, and that as 
regards the minor details he is speaking with his 
eye on Jewish history. It was not the mere 
presence of horses and pigs in churches that he 
meant to stress, but the defilement that they 
brought. In the case of the Jewish Temple the 
** abomination of desolation" had been understood 
to include the defiling of the altar with swine's 
flesh.^ This, in all likelihood, was the origin of 
Savonarola's prediction as to the bringing of pigs 

1 1 Mao. i, 47, 54, 69. 



THE SAVONAEOLA FALLACY 95 

into the sanctuary at Kome, which, as we have seen, 
was not fulfilled. 

But there was nothing new about a Catholic sack 
of Kome. The city had been hideously sacked and 
in large part destroyed under Gregory VII (1084) by 
Kobert Guiscard, the Pope's ally, after having been 
captured without sacking by the German Emperor. 
It just missed being sacked by Frederick II in 1239. 
In 1413 it was captured by Ladislaus of Naples, 
who gave all Florentine property in the city to 
pillage. No question of heresy arose in these 
episodes ; nor did the forces of the Church itself 
blench at either sack or sacrilege. Faenza was 
foully sacked in 1376 by Hawk wood, called in for 
its defence by the bishop of Ostia; and in 1377 the 
same condottiere massacred the population of Cesena 
under the express and continuous orders of Kobert, 
Cardinal of Geneva, the papal legate, afterwards 
the "anti-pope" Clement VII. No more bestial 
massacre took place in the pandemonium of the 
fourteenth century ; and the sacking of the churches 
and the violation of the nuns was on the scale of 
the bloodshed.^ In view of the endless atrocities of 
the wars of the Church and of Christendom there 
is a certain ripe absurdity about the exegetical com- 
ments on the subject of the sack of Kome in 1527. 
Says Blass : — 

Especially remarkable is this, that he [Savonarola] 
extends the devastation to the churches of Eonie, 
which in any ordinary capture (1) by a Catholic 
army would have been spared, but in this case were 

^ Refs. in De Potter, L' Esprit de VEglise, 1821, iv, 95-98. 



96 THE HISTOEICAL JESUS 

not at all respected, because a great part of the 
conquering army consisted of German Lutherans, 
for whom the Eoman Catholic churches were rather 
objects of hatred and contempt than of veneration. 
Now Lutheranism did not exist in 1496/ 

And Dr. Petrie adds : " Such a detail seemed exces- 
sively unlikely before the rise of Lutheranism ; yet 
it came to pass."^ It is interesting to realize the 
notions held by scholars of such standing in regard 
to European history after a century signalized by 
so much historic research ; and to find that such an 
ignorant proposition as that just cited should for 
Dr. Petrie '* explode the dogma " that really fulfilled 
prophecies^ have been framed post eventu7n. 

For centuries before Luther the desecration of 
churches was a regular feature in every Christian 
war of any extent. It is arguable, perhaps, that in 
the sack of Kome the German troops might have 
made a special display of that mania for ordure as 
an instrument of war of which we have had such 
circumstantial accounts from Belgium of late, and 
of which similar details have been preserved in the 
domestic history of Paris since 1870.'' But the 
stabling of horses in churches was a familiar act of 
warfare, often explicable by the simple fact that the 
horses of an army could not otherwise be accom- 
modated. The clerical chroniclers mention such 

^ Philology of the Gospels, p. 43. 

^ Growth of the Gospels, p. 45. 

^ Professed prophecies, that is, not political calculations. 

* The systematic deposition of ordure in the drawers of commodes 
in 1870, in beds and rooms and on piles of food in 1914, is a 
historical fact. As to the sack of Rome, Cantii's account is: 
"Delle bolle papali stabbiano i cavalli" {Istoria degli Italiani, 
ed. 1876, ix, 372). 



THE SAVONAROLA FALLACY 97 



things when they can tell a tale of the divine 
vengeance. Thus Spelman tells how '' Kichard, 
Robert, and Anesgot, sons of William Sorenge, in 
the time of William Duke of Normandy, wasting 
the country about Say, invaded the church of St. 
Gervase, lodging their soldiers there, and making 
it a stable for their horses. God deferred not the 
revenge."' In 1098 ''the Earl of Shrewsbury 
made a dog-kennel of the church of St. Fridank, 
laying his hounds in it for the night-time ; but in 
the morning he found them mad." ^ The putting 
of cattle in churches was sometimes a necessity of 
defensive warfare. In 1358, according to Jean de 
Venette, many unfortified villages in France made 
citadels of their churches to defend themselves from 
brigands;^ and in such cases the animals would be 
taken indoors. Fine churches, on the other hand, 
were often burned in the wars of that period.^ 
And when the Turks invaded Friuli in 1477 and 
1478, burning and ravaging,^ they were likely enough 
to have stabled their horses in churches. It was 
probably of the Turks that Savonarola was thinking, 
predicting as he so constantly did their speedy con- 
version to Christianity. 

Lutheranism can have had very little to do 
with the matter : the brutality of the German 
Lanzknechts was notorious long before Luther was 
heard of. But there was nothing specially German 

1 History of Sacrilege, 1698, p. 113. ^ j^^ p. 122. 

^ Zeller, L'histoire de Frayice raconUe par les contempo^-ains, 
vol. 21, p. 102. 

^ Id. vol. 22, p. 17. 

** Sismondi-Toccagni, Storia delle repuh. ital., 1852, iv, 123, 

H 



98 THE HISTOEICAL JESUS 

in the matter either. The Itahan condottieri in 
general were " full of contempt for all sacred 
things." ^ It is instructive to note that Savonarola 
predicts nothing of the wholesale violation of nuns 
and other women which was to take place at Rome 
as it had done in a hundred other sacks of cities : 
he must have known that these things happened ; 
but the thing that appealed to his imagination was 
the theological pollution resulting from putting 
horses and pigs in churches. He was not predict- 
ing : he was remembering. Long before his time, 
besides, Church Councils had to pass edicts against 
the use of churches as barns in time of peace. 

It will be remembered that his main items are 
slaughters, famines, and pestilences. There was 
famine and pestilence in Florence when he was 
prophesying in 1496 ; there was more in 1497 ; '^ 
and a terrible pestilence had visited Venice during 
the Turkish invasions of 1477 and 1478. The 
preacher's description of a plague in a city is an 
account of what had happened a dozen times in 
the history of Florence, before and after the Plague 
which figures in the forefront of Boccaccio's 
Decameron. Preaching from the text of Amos, 
he arraigns Italy and Home as Amos arraigns 
Israel and Judah ; and his menaces are the menaces 
of the Hebrew prophet, immeasurable slaughters, 
famine, pestilence, and captivity, with the old 
corollary of regeneration and restoration, in the 
case of Italy and the Church as in the case of 

^ Burckhardt, Renaissance in Italy, Eng.tr., ed. 1892, p. 23. 
2 Villari, pp. 463, 532, 554-55. 



THE SAVONAROLA FALLACY 99 

Israel. And his added detail of church desecration 
is at once a Biblical idea and a familiar item from 
Christian history. 

In the historic crusade against the Albigenses in 
1209, when Beziers was captured and every human 
being therein slain, seven thousand were, by the 
famous order of the Papal Legate,^ put to the 
sword in the great church of St. Mary Magdalene, 
to which they had fled for sanctuary ; and the 
whole city, with its churches, was burned to the 
ground. During the Hundred Years' War between 
England and France, says a social historian, a 
cleric — 

in the rural districts of France the passage of the 
ravagers was traced by blackened ruins, by 
desecrated churches, by devastated fields, by the 

mutilated bodies of women and children Strange 

forms of disease which the chroniclers of those 
times sum up in the names of " black death," or 
plague, were born of hunger and overleapt the 
highest barriers and ran riot within the over- 
crowded cities." 

In the wars of Burgundy and France in the 
fifteenth century Catholics habitually plundered 
Catholic churches. At the siege of Saint-Denis in 
1411 ** the Germans, the Bretons, and the Gascons 
promised themselves the pillage of the church and 
the treasures of the abbey." ^ Later ''the Enghsh, 
the Picards, and the Parisians entered the 



1 " Slay all ! God will know his own ! " 

2 Rev. W. Denton, England in the Fifteenth Century, 1888, 
pp. 81-82. 

^ Barante, Histoire des dues de Bourgogne, ed. 7ieme, iii, 234. 



100 THE HISTOEICAL JESUS 

monastery pillaged the apartments of the in- 
mates, and carried away the cups, the utensils, all 
the furniture."^ At Soissons, in 1414, 

the Germans, the Bretons, and the Gascons were as 
so many wild beasts. The Gomte d'Armagnac him- 
self could not restrain them. After having pillaged 
the houses they set upon the convents and the 
churches, where the women had taken refuge. They 
could not escape the brutality of the men of war ; 
the holy ornaments, the reliquaries, all was seized 
without respect ; the hostia, the bones of the martyr, 
trodden under foot. Never had an army of Chris- 
tians, commanded by such great seignors and formed 
of so many noble chevaliers, committed such horrors 
within the memory of man. ^ 

The historian is quite mistaken ; the same horrors 
had been many times enacted, and even on a greater 
scale. At the sack of Constantinople by the Chris- 
tian crusaders in 1204, 

the three Western bishops had strictly charged the 
crusaders to respect the churches and the persons 
of the clergy, the monks, and the nuns. They were 
talking to the winds. In the frantic excitement of 
victory all restraint was flung aside, and the warriors 
of the cross abandoned themselves with ferocious 
greed to their insatiable and filthy lewdness. With 
disgusting gestures and in shameless attire an aban- 
doned woman screamed out a drunken song from 
the patriarchal chair in the church of Sancta 

Sophia Wretches blind with fury drained off 

draughts of wine from the vessels of the altar ; the 
table of oblation, famed for its exquisite and costly 
workmanship, was shattered ; the splendid pulpit 
with its silver ornaments utterly defaced. Mules 
and horses luere driven into the churches to bear 

1 Id. ib. p. 248. ^ Id. id. p. 416. 

^ This detail, from Niketas, is also given by Gibbon, ch. Ix, near 



THE SAVONAEOLA FALLACY 101 

away the sacred treasures ; if they fell they were 
lashed and goaded till their blood streamed upon 
the pavement. While the savages were employed 
upon these appropriate tasks, the more devout were 
busy in ransacking the receptacles of holy relics 
and laying up a goodly store of wonder-working 
bones or teeth to be carried away to the churches 
of the great cities on the Ehine, the Loire, or the 
Seine/ 

Savonarola was simply predicting for Rome, 
perhaps with his eye on the Turks, such a fate as 
befell Constantinople at Christian hands, regarding 
both as acts of divine vengeance, and expecting the 
capture of Rome to come soon. He pointed to the 
French invasion — he well might — as showing what 
was likely to happen.^ The practice of church 
desecration had never ceased in Christendom for a 
single generation. In 1315 Edward Bruce, in his 
raid in Ireland, is reported to have burned churches 
and abbeys with all the people in them, and to have 
wrecked and defaced other churches, with their 
tombs and monuments. During the centuries 
between the battle of Bannockburn and the union 
of the . English and Scottish crowns, churches, 
cathedrals, or abbeys were plundered or burned 
on both sides in nearly every great border raid. 
Frenchmen and Burgundians wrecked each other's 
churches. In his thirteenth chapter Philip de 
Commines tells " Of the storming, taking, and 

end, and by Michaud, Hist, des Croisades, iii (1817), 154-55. Mills 
omits it. Michaud, like Cantu, stresses the point of ordure. So 
does Fleury, Hist. Secies, xvi, 149. 

1 Rev. Sir G. W. Cox, Tlie Crusades, 8th ed. p. 157. 

^ Perrens, ii, 95. 



102 THE HISTOEICAL JESUS 

plundering the city of Liege ; together with the 
ruin and destruction of the very churches." The 
Duke of Burgundy set a battaHon of his guards to 
defend them, and killed one soldier of those who 
tried to enter; but later the soldiers forced an 
entrance, and all were completely plundered. " I 
myself," says Commines, "was in none but the 
great church, but I was told so, and saw the marks 
of it, for which a long time after the Pope excom- 
municated all such as had any goods belonging to 
the churches in that city unless they restored them ; 
and the duke appointed certain officers to go up 
and down his country to see the Pope's sentence 
put in execution." ^ As late as 1524, in the course 
of the campaign of Henry VIII in France, two 
churches were held and defended as fortresses on 
the French side, and captured by the invaders;^ 
and in 1487 Perugia " became a beleaguered fortress 
under the absolute despotism of the Baglioni, wJio 
used even the cathedrals as barracks."^ Savonarola 
could not have missed hearing of that. 

If there was anything astonishing for Italians in 
the desecration of churches at the sack of Eome, 
they must have had short memories. The con- 
spiracy of the Pazzi in 1478, in which GiuHano de' 
Medici was slain during high mass in the cathedral 
church of Florence, had been backed by the Pope ; 
and the sacrilege of the planned deed was reckoned 
so horrible that one of the first appointed assassins, 



^ Memoirs of Philip de Commiiies, Bohn trans, i, 158. 

2 Hall's Chronicle, Hen. VHI, ed. 1550, fol. 112. 

8 Burckhardt, Renaissance in Italy, Eng. tr. ed. 1892, p. 29. 



THE SAVONAEOLA FALLACY 103 

who blenched at it, had to be replaced by priests, 
who had transcended such scruples/ On the capture 
of Brescia by the French under Gaston de Foix in 
1512, ''things sacred and profane, the goods, the 
honour, and the life of the inhabitants were for 
seven days delivered up to the greed, the lust, and 
the cruelty of the soldier," only the nuns being 
spared.^ In 1526 the Milanese told the Constable 
Bourbon, the general of their ally : — 

Frederick Barbarossa anciently desolated this 
city ; his vengeance spared neither the inhabitants, 
nor the edifices, nor the walls ; but that was nothing 
in comparison with the evils we now suffer. The 
barbarism of an enemy is less insupportable than 

the unjust cruelty of a friend our miseries have 

endured more than a month ; they increase every 
hour ; and, like the damned, we suffer, without 
hope, evils which before this time of calamity we 
believed to be beyond human endurance.^ 

Guicciardini testifies that the Spaniards of the 
emperor's forces had been more cruel than the 
Germans," violating the women and reducing to 
rags the men of their own allies. 



* Perrens, Hist, de Florence, 1434-1531, i, 385. 



Guicciardini, lib. x, c. 4. 
« Id. xvii, 3. 

* Though in reporting the sack of Rome he makes the Germans 
behave the more brutally as regards the cardinals. 



Chapter XI 

THE LOGIA THEOEY AND THE 
HISTOEICAL TEXT 

So much for the "especially remarkable " fact that 
churches were desecrated in the sack of Kome in 
1527, and that Savonarola should in 1496 have 
predicted such things for his own day. We have 
seen that his prediction was not a forecast of the 
event, that he had no idea of the causation of the 
ultimate sack of Kome, that he really prophesied 
an early event, and that he was simply announcing 
speedy divine vengeance after the manner of the 
Hebrew and many previous Christian prophets. 
What ground for argument, then, does his case 
furnish for an inference as to the date of the quasi- 
prophecy of the fall of Jerusalem in the third 
Gospel ? Blass, despite his *' especially remarkable " 
argument, puts his case pretty low : — 

Accidentally, you will say, the event [in 1527] 
corresponded with the prophecy. But that is not 
my point, whether it was accidental, or the prophet 
had really foreseen the event ; for in the case of 
the prophecies recorded by Luke you may raise the 
same controversy if you like.^ 

What then were the manner and the matter of the 

^ Philology of the Gospels, p. 41. 
104 



LOGIA THEOEY AND HISTOEIOAL TEXT 105 

prophecy in Luke ? The Messiah expressly grounds 
his prediction upon the non-acceptance by Jerusalem 
of him and his mission : — 

If thou [Jerusalem] hadst only known in this 
day the things which belong unto peace ! but now 
they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall 
come upon thee when thine enemies shall cast up 
a bank about thee, and compass thee round, and 
keep thee in on every side, and shall dash thee to 
the ground, and thy children within thee ; and they 
shall not leave in thee one stone on another (Luke 
xix, 42-44). 

But when ye see Jerusalem compassed with 
armies, then know that her desolation is at hand. 
Then let them that are in Judaea flee unto the 

mountains For these are days of vengeance, 

that all things which are written may be fulfilled. 

And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, 

and shall be led captive into all the nations, and 
Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, 
until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. And 

there shall be signs in sun and moon and stars 

And then shall they see the Son of Man coming in 
a cloud with power and great glory. But when 
these things begin to come to pass, look up, and 
lift up your heads ; because your redemption 
draweth nigh {id. xxi, 20-28). 

" I do not think," says Blass, *' that either the 
former or the latter of these foretellings is very 
distinct, since there are neither names given nor 
peculiar circumstances indicated ; only the common 

order of events is described " That v^^ill certainly 

not hold in respect of the " shall not leave in thee 
one stone on another," or the " cast up a bank about 
thee," v^hich is a distinct specification of the Eoman 
siege method of 70. 



106 THE HISTORICAL JESUS 

But let us follow up the implication, which is 
that a Jewish vaticinator, mindful of Daniel, might 
about the year 30 so predict the events of the year 
70, and a world of other events which never hap- 
pened, without astonishing us more than does 
Savonarola. 

As we shall see, not only the circumstantial 
details but the remainder of the prediction com- 
pletely exclude the idea of fortuitous real vaticina- 
tion, even if it be argued that prophecies of quite 
visionary prodigies may conceivably have been 
made at any date. As to the prophecy of the fall 
of the temple, which is common to the three 
synoptics, the Professor leaves it " out of the present 
discussion," seeing that the liberal theologians are 
willing to let it stand as a prophecy ante eve7itum. 
Certainly he may well contemn such a critical 
method. The prophecy as to the temple, and that 
in Matthew (xxiv, 3-31) and Mark (xiii, 3-27) as 
to the sequence of war, persecution, dissension, 
false prophets, evangelization of the whole world, 
the abomination of desolation in the holy place, 
false Christs (twice specified), signs and wonders, 
and the final cosmic catastrophe — all this is certainly 
on all fours, critically considered, with the presages 
in Luke. But how shall rational criticism be induced 
to take the whole mass of quasi-vaticination as the 
utterance of a wandering thaumaturg of the year 
30 ? It is idle for Professor Blass to explain to us 
that when Luke makes Jesus say "Jerusalem shall 
be trodden down of the Gentiles," with mere remi- 
niscence of the Septuagint Daniel, and Matthew 



LOGIA THEORY AND HISTORICAL TEXT 107 

and Mark make him speak with exact reference 
to Sept. Dan. ix, end, they are citing independently 
from their original. Their original may just have 
been the cited passage in Daniel, with no inter- 
vening document. ''It is self-evident," says the 
Professor,^ "that the real speech of Christ must 
have been longer than we read it now in any 
Gospel." That thesis cannot be self-evident of 
which the subject invites and admits a wholly 
different explanation; and the "must" is a sample 
of the Professor's critical ethic. 

Similarly Dr. Petrie assumes that there were any 
number of logia current, all genuine, and that the 
gospel-makers simply cite from them wherever they 
are found appropriate to the circumstances of the 
moment. " These episodes, thus brought into 
prominence by the conditions of the time, were 
therefore incorporated in the Nucleus, or in the 
gospels which grew upon that."'^ It now behoves 
us to consider that interesting development of tradi- 
tionalist theory. 

The Nucleus, be it explained, is Dr. Petrie's sub- 
stitute for the Primitive Gospel of the school of 
B. Weiss, and is constructed by the simple and 
certainly quite objective process of selecting " every- 
thing that is common to all three synoptics in a 
parallel text" — that is, occurring in all three in the 
same order. This is the " structural " test, and it 
yields a document which does not, like the Weiss 
selection, end before the Last Supper, but goes on 

1 As cited, p. 46. ^ -^yorjj cited, p. 34. 



108 THE HISTORICAL JESUS 

to the Kesurrection. But this Nucleus, be it noted, 
was practically complete almost immediately after 
the Founder's death. The close " suggests a docu- 
ment drawn up within a few months of the final 
events." ^ How, then. Dr. Petrie can speak of 
logia incorporated in the Nucleus in respect of the 
conditions of the time, is not very clear. By his 
account the prevalent Christian idea about the year 
30, during the Ministry, ** was the proper under- 
standing of the law, which was not yet abrogated 
in any particular." At this stage, accordingly, the 
Sermon on the Mount would be the prominent 
logion. '* And when we notice how the fulfilling 
of the law is the main theme of the nucleus, and 
how little [even] of the completed Gospels refer to 
the Gentile problems, we must see how devoid of 
historic sense is the anachronism of supposing the 
main body of the Gospels to have originated as late 
as the Gentile period"' p.e. 60-70!]. But in 
40-50, with the spread of the Church, as set forth 
in the Acts, " the Samaritans were welcomed, and 
Gentile proselytes such as the centurion Cornelius "; 
whereupon the suitable logia would be added to the 
Gospels current. Then in 50-60, when the Gentiles 
began to enter in decisive numbers, there was " a 
special meaning in the parable of the Prodigal Son, 
and in the subjection to kings and rulers"; hence 
further embodiments. Then, after the fall of 
Jerusalem in 70, " Christianity lost its sense of any 
tie to Judaism." 

1 Id, p. 40. 2 Id. p. 38. 



LOGIA THEORY AND HISTORICAL TEXT 109 

It will be admitted that this is a stirring change 
from the run of New Testament criticism of the 
past seventy years. That criticism more or less 
unconsciously recognized the problem set up by the 
entire ignorance of gospel teaching revealed in the 
Pauline and other epistles. Dr. Petrie, following 
Professor Blass in an unhesitating acceptance of 
the narrative of the Acts, simply ignores the Pauline 
problem altogether. He boldly credits the Church 
with a Gospel before Paul's conversion, and, like 
other traditionalists, supplies Paul, the gospel-less, 
with a physician, Luke, who had collected from the 
scattered mass of logia more gospel than anybody 
else ! 

Thus has the pendulum swung back to the 
furthest extreme from that at which men carried 
down the Gospel dates to accommodate the data. 
As to chronology, Dr. Petrie is practically at the 
orthodox standpoint of Professor Salmon.^ An objec- 
tive and ostensibly scientific method, involving no 
element of personal bias or preference, is employed 
to make a selection from the Gospels which shall 
present as it were mathematically or statistically 
the earliest elements in the synoptics. On that 
selection, however, there is brought to bear no 
further critical principle whatever. It is assumed 
that it must all come from the traditional founder, 
a mass of whose utterances must have been com- 
mitted by auditors to writing as they were delivered 
(the power to write being held to be common in 

1 Histor. Introd. to the N. T., 4th ed. 1889, p. 111. 



110 THE HISTOEICAL JESUS 

Galilee and Judea in the first century because it 
was common in Egypt in the third) ; and a nucleus 
collection of these separate documents must have 
been made soon after the crucifixion, and there and 
then wound up. At any rate, such a collection is 
yielded by selecting the groups or blocks of matter 
which occur in all three synoptics in the same 
order; and this must have been made about the 
year 30, because it is mainly occupied with the 
problems of the law, and very Httle with "the 
Gentile problems " which so soon began to come 
to the front. The history of the Acts is here taken 
as unassailable ground, like the main Gospel record. 

Two comments here at once suggest themselves. 
Dr. Petrie's line of construction might with perfect 
congruity be employed to yield evidence that the 
assumed original Teacher was mainly concerned 
with problems of the law ; and (2) the inferred 
multitude of original floating dicta may with 
immense gain in plausibility be transmuted into a 
series of interpolations made by different hands 
long after the supposed Founder's death. For what 
critical right has Dr. Petrie to subsume a store of 
floating Jesuine dicta which supplied the Church, 
in its changing circumstances, for three or four 
decades, with suitable parables and teachings to 
meet every new problem ? If you profess to seek 
a strictly impersonal principle of selection, why not 
apply a strictly impersonal principle of inference 
from the result ? 

Obviously the additional logia are far more likely 
to have been invented than found. Such a chronic 



LOGIA THEOEY AND HISTORICAL TEXT 111 

windfall of papyri is a sufficiently fantastic hypo- 
thesis on the face of it, in no way justifiable from 
the recent discovery of a few enigmatic scraps that 
had not been embodied, and suggest no community 
of thought with those embodied. But even if we 
allow the probable existence of many floating leaves, 
where is the likelihood that their sayings all came 
from the same Teacher ? In the terms of the 
hypothesis, he occupied himself mainly with the 
law (unless the lost logia outbulk the saved), while 
at the same time he duly provided for the Samaritans 
and the Gentiles ! His disciples and apostles, none- 
theless, paid no attention to these latter provisions 
until they found that such provisions were really 
necessary to accommodate the thronging converts ! 
All this is very awkwardly suggestive of the Moslem 
saying that the Khalif Omar " was many a time of 
a certain opinion, and the Koran was revealed accord- 
ingly."^ It would indeed have been a remarkable 
experience for the evangelist to discover the logion 
(Mt. xvi, 17-19) as to the founding of the Church 
on the rock of Peter when a Petrine claim had to 
be substantiated. To the eye of Dr. Kendel Harris, 
an orthodox but a candid scholar, the "rock" text 
suggests an adaptation of a passage in the Odes of 
Solomon in which God's '' rock " is the foundation 
not of the Church but of the Kingdom.^ Such 
probabilities Dr. Petrie never considers. 

Let us see how Dr. Petrie's method explains 

^ Noldeke, Sketches from Eastern History, 1892, p. 28. 
2 The Odes and Psalms of Solomon, ed. Bendel Harris, 1909, 
pp. 74, 118. 



112 THE HISTOEICAL JESUS 

Matthew x, 5 : " Go not into any way of the 
Gentiles, and enter not into any city of the 
Samaritans." It occurs only in Matthew : Luke 
gives the parable of the Good Samaritan, with its 
flings at the lawyer and at the Jews in general ; 
and in John the Founder makes Samaritan converts. 
The anti-Gentile text Dr. Petrie never discusses ! 
Yet his method does not permit him to exclude it. 
It belongs to his '' sixth class," of " sayings and 
episodes which only occur in one Gospel. These 
classes are almost entirely in Matthew and Luke, 
and are the accretions which loere added after the 
Gospels had finally parted company.'' ^ So that after 
the Gentile period had set in, Matthew, the one 
** professional scribe among the apostles," somehow 
found a logion lesou which suited the need of the 
Church to exclude Samaritans and Gentiles, while 
Luke found another which suited the need to 
welcome them. And yet, in respect of its very 
purport, the anti-Gentile and anti- Samaritan teach- 
ing ought, if genuine, to belong, on Dr. Petrie's 
general principle, to the earliest collection of all. 
Such is the dilemma to which we are led by the 
strictly statistical method of selection, conducted 
without any higher light. 



Work cited, p. 49. 



Chapter XII 

FAILUEE OF THE LOGIA THEOEY 

To the open-minded reader it must be already plain 
that, unless we are to be led into mere chaos, there 
must at once be added to the statistical test either 
the proviso that given sayings may for the purposes 
of certain sections of the Church have been left 
out in certain Gospels, or that for the purposes 
of certain sections they may have been invented. 
And the moment such a concession is made, the 
primary assumption of necessary authenticity is 
destroyed. If the anti- Samaritan precept is the 
utterance of the Founder, the pro- Samaritan parable 
is not; or else the Founder was literally all things 
to all men. If either could be foisted on a gospel, 
anything could be; and the futile historical argu- 
ment to save the prediction of the fall of Jerusalem — 
an argument proceeding, as we have seen, on a 
quite uncritical view of one uninvestigated and 
loosely described case — becomes doubly irrelevant. 
Dr. Petrie's Nucleus of triple tradition contains the 
prophecy : — 

The Son of Man shall be betrayed unto the chief 
priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn 
him to death, and shall deliver him to the Gentiles 
to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him ; and the 
third day he shall rise again. 
Is that to be salved as historical, on the pretext 
113 I 



114 THE HISTOEIOAL JESUS 

tliat Blass has by the case of Savonarola " exploded 
the dogma " of onme vaticinium post eveiitum, or 
is to be salved by the plea that Savonarola, like 
Lincoln, predicted his own death at the hands of 
his enemies? And if prudence perforce abandons 
that course, why was the vaguer prophecy about 
Jerusalem sought to be salved at all ? "Why was 
not the miracle prediction included in the Savonarola 
argument ? Considered as a whole, the other is not 
at all a bare prediction of the sacking of a city, 
fortuitously fulfilled forty years after utterance : it 
is a Messianic judgment, carrying a whole eschato- 
logy bound up with it.^ And the fact that different 
gospels give it differently is not to be rationally 
explained by Professor Blass' s device of saying that 
Jesus must have said a great deal more still, and 
that Luke selected what would appeal to Gentiles, 
while Matthew and Mark omitted what would give 
pain to Jews. This conception of evangelists play- 
ing fast and loose with the known divine oracles to 
suit men's susceptibilities ought to be disturbing to 
any believer's moral sense ; while that of a set of 
propagandists inventing oracles to suit their own 
religious aim puts the Gospel-makers in a line with 
the whole succession of Jewish and early Christian 
framers of supposititious documents, as men of their 
age, well-meaning, narrow, deluded, devoted. 



^ Bousset {The Ayiti-Christ Legend, Eng. tr. p. 23) "assumes, 
with many recent expositors, that the distinctly apocalyptic part of 
Matt, xxiv and Mark xiii is a fragment of foreign origin introduced 
amid genuine utterances of the Lord. It is also evident that, com- 
pared with that of Mark, the text of Matthew is the original." Here 
we have the old strategy of compromise. 



FAILUEE OF THE LOGIA THEOKY 115 

We have come back to the fundamental issue 
between authoritarian supernaturahsm and free 
reason. If the prediction of the betrayal, the trial, 
the scourging, the mocking, the crucifixion, and the 
resurrection is to stand, there need be no more 
discussion over miracles or anything else. ** It is 
v^ritten," and there an end. Biblical criticism has 
once more become blasphemy. If reason is to have 
any access to the matter, the prediction must fall as 
a fiction; and if the "exploded" argument from 
Savonarola is to be revived, it will have to be re- 
stricted to the case of the prediction to which it 
was so prudentially applied. But if one hopeless 
prophecy is to be dropped as post eventum, it is 
mere irrelevance to debate over another which is only 
in one selected and isolated aspect less hopeless, 
while as a whole it is equally so. 

Savonarola's prediction of the fall of Eome was 
one of many, motived by rehgion and invited by the 
absolute fact of previous invasions, of which the last 
had occurred only two years before. The one con- 
crete detail in which it was "fulfilled" was simply 
a specification of a common feature in the warfare 
of the age. Another invasion of Italy was believed 
to be imminent, and actually took place in the year 
of the prophecy, without fulfilling that in any detail. 
The Gospel prophecy is Messianic, devoid of political 
motivation, accompanied by a whole apparatus of 
Christian eschatology, and backed by other pre- 
dictions of pure miracle. The details of the siege 
and the sequel are as plainly supplied after the event 
as those of the betrayal, the mockery, the scourging. 



116 THE HISTORICAL JESUS ^ 

the crucifixion, and the resurrection. To hold by 
one set of predictions and abandon the other is 
mere critical trifling. Even orthodox critics give up 
the early chapters of Luke as late accretions. What 
kind of credit is it that is to be saved by making 
him the faithful chronicler of a real prophecy ? 

The prediction of the fall of the temple, which is 
in the Nucleus as being common in matter and order 
to all three synoptics, is in no better case. On Dr. 
Petrie's principle, it is one of the earliest accepted 
sayings — that is, it was embodied when the Jesuist 
movement was pre-occupied over the law, and yet it 
did not disturb that pre-occupation. On his theory, 
it should not have appeared in the Nucleus at all, or 
in any Gospel until the occasion arose. Thus in- 
compatible with Dr. Petrie's own theory, it is equally 
incompatible with any critical principle. This is a 
concrete Messianic prophecy, not to be salved by any 
juggling with mere historiography. In the terms of 
the case, it was made at a time when there was no 
politically visible reason for making it,^ and is not in 
the least to be explained as were the vaticinations 
of Savonarola. On the principles of Professor Blass, 
it ought to have been far too "painful" for preserva- 
tion by men adhering to the Jewish law. 

It is quite thinkable, of course, that the compilers 



* The assertion of Dr. Conybeare {Myth, Magic, and Mor-als, 
p. 46), that the destruction of the temple was " an event which a7iy 
clear-sighted observer of the growing hostility between Jew and 
Roman must have foreseen," is characteristic of that writer's way 
of interpreting documents. A second reading may perhaps yield 
bim another impression. Forty years of non-fulfilment is a precious 
proof of the "must." 



FAILUEE OF THE LOGIA THEOEY 117 

of the Gospels may have found such quasi-predictions 
already committed to writing, and merely embodied 
them. But that admission only carries us back to 
the problem of authenticity. If any current "scrap 
of paper" concerning "Jesus" or "the Lord" 
could thus secure canonicity, what trust is to be 
put in the canon? It is recorded in the history 
of Islam that Abu Daoud, who collected some half- 
a-million traditions concerning Mohammed, rejected 
all but 4,800, which included " the authentic, those 
which seem to be authentic, and those which are 
nearly so."^ This again, it may be argued, proves 
that false traditions do not negate the historicity of 
the personage they concern. And that is clearly 
true. There may conceivably have been a Teacher 
in whose mouth many invented sayings were put 
even in his lifetime. But when we thus come to 
the historicity problem, there is simply no such 
basis in the Gospels as we have in the life of the 
confessedly "Illiterate Prophet." The Gospel life 
begins and ends in miracle, and it yields no in- 
telligible evangel apart from that ostensibly founded 
on the sacrificial death — the death, that is, of the 
God. 

Apart from the sacramental rite, the whole body 
of the Teaching is but a mass of incompatibilities, 
telling of a dozen standpoints, legalism and anti- 
legalism, Judaism and Gentilism, Davidism and 
non-Davidism, asceticism and the contrary, a meek 
Messiah and one claiming to be greater than Solomon, 

* Muir and Weir, Life of Mohmnmed, ed. 1912, p. xlii. 



118 THE HISTOEICAL JESUS 

a Teacher vetoing invective and one freely indulging 
in it, a popular and unexplained Gospel for the 
masses who are declared to be purposely excluded 
from comprehension of that very Gospel, whereof 
the esoteric explanations yield nothing that could 
apply to the alleged propaganda. 

Even self-contradictions, it may be argued, do 
not negate the authenticity of a teaching. Carlyle 
and Buskin abound in them ; who escapes them ? 
Many passages in the Koran are contradicted or 
abrogated by others, 225 verses being cancelled by 
later ones.^ Here indeed there is plain ground for 
critical doubt ; and some of us must emphatically 
decline to accept Muir's verdict, endorsing Von 
Hammer's, that '' we may upon the strongest pre- 
sumption affirm that every verse in the Koran is 
the genuine and unaltered composition of Moham- 
med himself."^ But even if we are satisfied that 
Mohammed in his long life deliberately modified 
his doctrine, there is no room for such an explana- 
tion in the case of a teacher who is never once said 
to avow modification, and whose whole teaching 
career ostensibly covers but a year in the synoptic 
record. 

As the tradition stands, whether read with 
Unitarian or with Trinitarian assumptions, it is 
a mere mosaic of enigma and contradiction. If the 
Teacher never called himself the Son of God in a 



^ Muir and Weir, as cited, p. xxvi. 

2 J(i. p. xxviii. Contrast the pronouncements of Palmer, Kuenen, 
and Nicholson, cited in the author's History of Freethought, 3rd ed. 
i, 250. 



FAILUEE OF THE LOGIA THEOEY 119 

miraculous sense, how came the men for whom his 
word was law, and who in the terms of the thesis 
knew his life history and parentage if any one did, 
to call him so ? In Dr. Petrie's Nucleus, the triple 
tradition, the Founder does assure his disciples that 
*' in the regeneration" he will sit in the throne of 
glory, and they on twelve thrones, judging the 
twelve tribes. What room is there for Gentilism 
here? And if downright miracle and miraculous 
prediction alike be given up as unhistorical, on what 
grounds can we give credence to this as a really 
delivered oracle ? 

On the other hand, no fundamental difficulty 
remains when we recognize that the whole Gospel 
record is the composite result of a process of making 
a life history for a God. The command of the 
Messiah to Peter to keep silence as to his Messianic 
character is quite intelligible as providing at once 
the claim by Jesus and an explanation of the fact 
that no such Messianic movement was historically 
recorded. The blank enigma of the early " popular " 
evangel is solved when we realize that there had 
been no such evangel; that the cult had really 
grown out of the ancient sacramental rite ; that the 
growing movement had to evolve a quasi-biography 
when the God of the rite was to be developed into 
a Messiah; and that the Judaism of the old 
Messianic idea had to be transmuted into univer- 
salism when the cult came to a Gentile growth. 
All the contradictory texts fall (more or less clearly) 
into their orders as survivals of the divergent sects 
formed by the changing situation — or, let us say. 



120 THE HISTOEICAL JESUS 

of those changing needs of the widening cult which 
Dr. Petrie so arbitrarily makes a ground for the 
mere selection of dicta from a floating mass of 
written notes, but which may so much more ration- 
ally be taken as grounds for producing the required 
oracle. 

That there were such scattered and floating 
oracles, indeed, we are not critically entitled to 
deny. The Judaeo-Greek world was indeed familiar 
with oracles of "the Lord." The Gospel Jesus is 
made to predict that there would come after him 
many saying "I am Christ"; and while the tradi- 
tionalist must accept this as true prediction, the 
historian must pronounce that various '' Christs " or 
quasi-Christs did come. We have some of their 
names and their brief secular history.^ Each of 
these men would be ''the Lord" for his followers; 
and some of them, surely, propounded some teach- 
ing. The Gospel ethic of reciprocity, we know, 
was put in a saner form by Hillel ; did he get it 
from the Jesuists ? Christian scholars do not claim 
as much.^ There is no Messianic item in the 
Gospels, apart from the lore of the sacrament, which 
may not have been in the legend of any " Christ." 
As it happens, the best authenticated saying of " the 
Lord " is one which no Christian now accepts — the 
fantastic millenarian prediction given by Papias, 
who had it from " the elders who saw John, the 



* Josephus, Antiq. xx, 5, § 1 ; Bel. Jud., vii, 11 ; Dio Cassius, 
Ixix ; Orosius, vii, 12. 

2 E.g. the orthodox Ewald, Geschichte Christus' und seiner Zeit, 
3te Ausg. p. 31 note. 



FAILUEE OF THE LOGIA THEOEY 121 



disciple of the Lord," and textually quoted by 
Irenseus, who is practically corroborated by Euse- 
bius. The latter, it is true, pronounces Papias very 
limited in his comprehension ; ^ but has not the 
same thing been said many times of the disciples 
by believers in the gospel Jesus ? 

The logion preserved from Papias, we know, is 
in the Apocalypse of Baeuch, which imitated the 
Book of Enoch, both of which are full of oracles 
of "the Lord." But this only proves that oracles 
passing current in other quarters and of another 
source could pass current with devout Jesuists as 
oracles of Jesus. The Apocalypse of Baeuch is 
pronounced by Canon Charles, who has so ably 
edited that and other remains of Jewish literature 
of the same age, a " beautiful " book, " almost the 
last noble utterance of Judaism before it plunged 
in the dark and oppressive years that followed the 
destruction of Jerusalem"; a book written when 
" breathing thought and burning word had still 
their home in Palestine, and the hand of the Jewish 
artist was still master of its ancient cunning." ^ It 
was admittedly long more widely current in Christian 
than in Jewish circles, and fell into discredit only 
when it was felt to contain '' an implicit polemic 
against Christianity." It is to its early Christian 
vogue that we owe its preservation in a Syriac 
translation made from the Greek : "of the Hebrew 



1 "Stupidity" is ascribed to him by Blass {Entstehung, p. 8), 
who on his own principles has no right whatever to reject such a 
"tradition." 

2 Compare with this avowal of an orthodox scholar, Mill's assump- 
tion of the total absence of genius in Palestine apart from Jesus. 



122 THE HISTOEICAL JESUS 

original every line has perished, save a few still 
surviving in rabbinic writings." 

Who can say how many other such Jewish books 
may not have furnished items for the compilers of 
the Gospels ? The Sermon on the Mount we know 
is a Judaic compilation ; and the '' Slavonic Enoch " 
contains sets of beatitudes closely analogous to those 
of the Sermon. To the traditionalist these things 
are matters of profound perplexity ; for the rational 
critic they are evidences for the naturalist conception 
of the rise of Christianity. 



Chaptee XIII 

KESUEGENCE OF THE HISTOKICAL 
PEOBLEM 

When the '* selection " theory is appUed to the 
logia actually recovered at Oxyrhynchus it con- 
spicuously fails to square these with the tradition- 
ahst assumption. On Dr. Petrie's principle they 
were left out of the Nucleus and Gospels alike 
because they met no need of the Christian organiza- 
tion. That is to say, oracles of the Son of God were 
simply ignored by the apostles and the organizers 
because they did not serve any useful purpose. 
Independent criticism finds in them plain marks 
of Judaism, of Gnosticism, of Christian heresy, and 
of a Christism irreconcilable with the Gospel record.^ 
Logion iv, iii, a, runs : "I stood in the midst of the 
world, and in flesh I was ' seen of them ; and I 
found all drunken, and none found I athirst among 
them" [5c. for the word] — the saying of a retro- 
spective' Christ, no longer in the flesh, such as we 
find in the Gnostic PiSTis Sophia and the Odes of 
Solomon.^ On the traditionalist view this at least 



1 See the collection of opinions in Dr. Charles Taylor's The 
Oxyrhynchus Logia and the Apocryphal Oospels, 1899, pp. 15-19, 
23, 24, 25, 27, 39, 42, etc. 

2 These logia, it should be noted, are always ascribed to "les," 
The full name lesous is never given, and there is no cognomen. 

123 



124 THE HISTOEICAL JESUS 

must be tolerably late ; what then does the " selec- 
tion " argument gain from the recovered papyri ? 

But it fares no better when confronted with the 
opening chapters of Luke. For the Blass school 
these are to be dated 50-60. Already Luke's 
"many"^ had drawn up their narratives; and 
these, we are to suppose, included the miracle story 
of the birth of John, the Annunciation, the kinship 
and intercourse of Elizabeth and Mary, the pre- 
paration of John " in the desert," a different account 
of the birth at Bethlehem, the appearance of the 
Divine Child in the Temple, and all the rest of it ; 
but no mention of the flight into Egypt. We are 
asked to believe that all these added narratives were 
current among the faithful "from the first," but 
that Mark and Matthew did not see fit to include 
them in their Gospels, though Matthew saw reason 
to tell of the flight into Egypt, and Luke to sup- 
press it. Whatever may be the outcome of the 
"liberal" method of handling the Gospels, it is 
safe to say that this will never appease the critical 
spirit. The " gospel of the Infancy " thus embodied 
in Luke is visibly cognate with the " apocryphal " 
gospels which were never allowed into the canon, 
but were more or less popular in the Church. A 
compromise between traditionalism and the statis- 
tical method may set up the position that the 
stories were current from the first, although all 
fictitious ; but this involves the awkward conse- 
quence that the whole atmosphere " from the first " 

^ "Many," says Blass {Entstehung, p. 11), may mean 3, 4, 5, or 
even more. 



EESUEGBNCE OF HISTOEICAL PEOBLEM 125 

is one of unrestrained invention. Would the in- 
ventors of all these myths have any scruple about 
putting in the mouth of "the Lord" any medley 
of teachings collected from the present and the 
past ? 

Luke inserts the episode of the mission of the 
seventy, with the usual lack of time measurement, 
between the mission of the twelve and the decisive 
visit to Jerusalem. In this narrative, the twelve 
bring back no message, merely reporting "what 
things they had done." Their mission is in effect 
made of no account : we read of more miracles, 
predictions of the approaching tragedy, the Trans- 
figuration, and a series of episodes disparaging the 
disciples ; and then we come upon the mission of 
the seventy, who are " sent two and two before his 
face into every city and place whither he himself was 
about to come." To the seventy is now ascribed 
the joyful report which the Weiss school calmly 
assign to the Primitive Gospel, and ascribe to the 
returning twelve, though Matthew and Mark have 
no mention of it. Thus Luke is in effect repre- 
sented as connecting with a new mission story a 
result which he found connected in the primitive 
story with the mission of the twelve, while Matthew 
and Mark had seen fit to suppress the result altogether. 

What gain in credibility, then, is effected by sub- 
stituting the " selection " theory for one in which 
the third evangelist is implicitly represented as a 
framer of fiction ? For Dr. Petrie, the story of the 
seventy is a logion ignored by the first two Gospel- 
makers, presumably as serving no purpose, albeit 



126 THE HISTOEICAL JESUS 

one of the most important items in the history. 
What kind of narrators, then, were the men who 
passed it over? The alternatives are equally destruc- 
tive to credence: on either view we are dealing with 
men who would invent anything or suppress any- 
thing. And yet the subject of the missions lies at 
the core of the historical problem. To the eye of 
rational criticism it is an evolving legend. If we 
take Mark as the first selector or collector, we have 
the twelve sent forth '' by two and two " without 
money or supplies; with authority over unclean 
spirits ; and with no specified message whatever, 
though the twelve are to make a solemn and mina- 
tory testimony against those who refuse to hear 
them. **And they went out, and preached that 
men should repent. And they cast out many devils, 
and anointed with oil many that were sick, and 
healed them." They make no report. 

In Matthew, similarly, the twelve are empowered 
to cast out spirits and heal diseases, and are *' sent 
forth " with a peremptory veto on any visit to 
Samaritans or Gentiles, to "preach, saying. The 
kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, raise 
the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out devils : freely 
ye received, freely give.'' As in Mark, they are 
to go unfurnished ; and are to withhold their peace 
from the unworthy, testifying as aforesaid. Then 
ensues a long discourse, with no explanation of the 
kingdom of heaven, though the missioners are to 
" proclaim upon the housetops " what they ''hear in 
the ear." Then, ''when Jesus had made an end of 
commanding his twelve disciples, he departed thence 



RESURGENCE OF HISTORICAL PROBLEM 127 



to teach and preach in their cities." Of the mission 
there is not another word: the disciples are not even 
mentioned as returning. 

Upon this kind of basis Luke erects a new 
structure. The twelve are sent forth to exorcise, 
heal, and preach, unfurnished ; and as before they 
are to give testimony against those who will not 
receive them. '' And they departed, and went 
throughout the villages, preaching the Gospel, and 
healing everywhere." " And the apostles, when 
they were returned, declared unto him what things 
they had done." The story is not suppressed, and 
it is supplied with a conclusion ; but it is on the 
mission of the seventy that stress is visibly laid : 
they " return with joy," and are told to rejoice 
that their names are written in heaven. *' In that 
same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit " ; and 
after the discourse on the Father and the Son^ the 
disciples are " privately " told that many prophets 
and kings had desired in vain to see and hear what 
they had seen and heard. 

In face of all this the methods of the Bernhard 
Weiss school and the selection theory are alike 
invalid. They furnish no explanation. The third 
Gospel is simply substituting a mission to the 
Gentiles for a mission to the Jews, under cover 
of a story of a preparatory mission to all the places 
that were to be visited by the Teacher on his way 
to his death at Jerusalem. The seventy — in some 
MSS. seventy-two — stand for the seventy or seventy- 

^ Codices A and C preface this with ' ' And turning to his disciples, 
he said." 



128 THE HISTOBIOAL JESUS 

two peoples into whom, by Jewish tradition, man- 
kind was divided. The notion that a genuine logion 
of this kind was all along lying ready to be used is 
surely fantastic. It is a planned myth, eking out the 
main myth. It yields only the same Gospel of one 
phrase, not meant to be understood by the hearers. 
But it carries in symbol a provision for the Gentiles; 
and immediately upon it there follows the story of 
the Good Samaritan, demonstrating that the real tie 
among men is not nationality but humanity, and 
impeaching the fanaticism and hypocrisy of the 
Jewish leaders. 

Facing once more the sharp antithesis between 
this and the strictly Judaic command in Matthew, 
we dismiss as a futility the notion that the same 
teacher delivered both about the same time, and that 
the pro-Gentile compiler merely ** selected" one and 
dropped the other. The two sayings are framed for 
two schools or two sects; and it is idle to see history 
in either. If the deified Teacher had delivered the 
first, the second would have been a daring blasphemy. 
They are alike but men's counsels ascribed to " the 
Lord." To this conclusion we are always driven. 
The starting-point of the diverging sects must be 
looked for in something else than a body of oracular 
teaching of any kind. 



Chapteb XIV 

OETHODOXY AND THE " OKAL " 
HYPOTHESIS 

The diverging schools of documentary " construc- 
tion " being thus ahke unable to yield a coherent 
notion either of the process of Gospel-making or of 
the beginnings of the cultus, it is not surprising to 
find yet a third school of scholarly interpretation 
undertaking to do better, and to build on an " oral " 
basis where others have vainly built on documents. 
This theory, long ago predominant in Germany,^ is 
latterly represented in England by the Eev. Arthur 
Wright, author of The Composition of the 
Gospels, a Synopsis of the Gospels, and Some 
New Testament Problems. 

Writing before the appearance of Dr. Petrie's 
treatise, Mr. Wright did not contemplate that 
development of the later school which gives the 
earliest possible dates for the Gospels ; but we may 
feel sure that he would give it small quarter. Him- 
self essentially orthodox, and making without ques- 
tion all the primary assumptions of historicity, he 
dates the Epistle of James before the year 50, Paul's 
Epistles to the Thessalonians in the year 52 ; Mark 

^ Strauss speaks of it as having been " firmly established." Das 
Leben Jesu, Einl. § 9, end. 

129 K 



130 THE HISTORICAL JESUS 

about 70; Matthew "not much" later; Luke in 
80; and John later still/ He is not tied to the 
synoptics : when they become unmanageable he 
vigorously rectifies them by the aid of the Fourth 
Gospel. But on his own lines he is so candid that 
he can always be read with pleasure; and his 
arguments are well worth consideration. 

Mr. Wright's theory, in brief, is that the Gospels, 
one and all, represent the late consignment to paper 
of matter preserved from the first in the Christian 
catechetical schools, given by the apostles and 
preserved by their pupils in the Eabbinical fashion. 
As Matthew divides plausibly into fifty-one lessons, 
and Mark in the Westcott and Hort text into forty- 
eight paragraphs, it is suggested that the plan in 
both cases had been to attain to a set of fifty-one 
or fifty-two ; and 

If there really was an attempt to provide every 
Sunday with a Gospel of its own, we shall under- 
stand why the formation of Gospel sections pro- 
ceeded rapidly at first and then ceased ; we shall 
understand why all our Gospels are so short and 
contain so little which is not essential ; we shall 
understand how S. Mark's order became fixed. ^ 

This plausible but dangerous detail, however, is not 
insisted on ; what is essential is the datum of long 
oral tradition. Orthodox as he is, too, Mr. Wright 
holds that Luke i ; ii ; iii, 23-38, *' are compara- 
tively late additions, which never formed part of 
the primitive oral teaching."^ Thus he can sum- 
marily get rid of a number of incredibilities which 

^ Some New Testament Problems, 1898, pp. 197-98. 
2 Id. p. 14. 8 Id. p. 16. 



OETHODOXY AND " OEAL " HYPOTHESIS 131 

the other schools more prudently leave to be excised 
by the reader as he sees fit. But we shall find him 
making a stout fight for many others. 

On the "oral" theory every Church had its ov^n 
tradition/ " differing both in contents and wording 
from that of other Churches, and in particular 
exhibiting much mixture and many sayings of 
Christ which are not in our Gospels at alV^ — an 
interesting approximation, in effect, to the theory 
of scattered leaflets. Thus is to be accounted for 
the endless variety in Gospel phrasing and detail. 
For Mr. Wright, further, it is inconceivable that 
any evangelist left out anything he knew of. ** The 
common idea" (before Dr. Petrie) ''that they 
picked and selected what was specially adapted to 
their readers, I most confidently reject." ^ Matthew 
would gladly have given the parable of the Prodigal 
Son, and Luke the story of the Syrophoenician 
woman, which would so well have suited his 
purpose.^ *'He did not give it because he had 
never heard of it." Thus, in brief, Mr. Wright 
posits much teaching lost even from the oral tradi- 
tion, as Dr. Petrie posits many lost leaflets. 

But Mr. Wright's conception of the oral tradition, 
upon scrutiny, becomes disquieting to the critical 
sense. In one place, discussing Luther's estimate 
of the Epistle of James as an epistle of straw, he 

^ Elsewhere (p. 200) Mr. Wright speaks of the traditions as 
^^ circulated in an oral form from very early times "; but he does 
not appear to mean this in the natural sense. 

2 Id. p. 102. 3 Id. p. 213. 

* Would it ? For Loisy it is stamped with Jewish exclusiveness. 
The "dog" merely gets a compassionate crumb. 



132 THE HISTORICAL JESUS 



remarks — with a great deal more truth, I fancy, 
than he dreams of — that James's Epistle " is Chris- 
tianity in swaddling-clothes." ^ Again, the opening 
verses of John's Gospel " reveal a depth of know- 
ledge to which S. James never attained. Not that 
S. James would have contradicted them or doubted 
their truth. But it is one thing to see truth when 
it is set before you ; it is another to set it forth 
yourself. There is such a thing as latent know- 
ledge." ^ Yet on the same page with the swaddling- 
clothes passage Mr. Wright has said, with regard to 
Mark's omission of the words, ** Come unto me all 
ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give 
you rest ": — 

Was it humility that made him deliberately omit 
them as too good for so insignificant a creature as 
himself to record ? Or was it a conscious or uncon- 
scious feeling that they were unsuited to his readers ? 
A man with such preposterous humility was ill- 
equipped for the work of an evangelist. Readers so 
unchristian would not value a Gospel. 

What now becomes of the two presentments of 
James and John ? Both must presumably have 
known most that was to be known, ex hypothesi. 
Yet James has not a word of specifically Christian 
doctrine, and, save in two sentences, one of which 
has every appearance of interpolation, while the 
other is only less suspicious, no mention of Jesus. 
John, on the other hand, as an apostle (whether or 
not the beloved one) , must on the theory have heard 
many of the sayings given in the synoptics, which 

1 Id. p. 209. 2 j^, p, 215. 



ORTHODOXY AND "ORAL" HYPOTHESIS 133 

he does not report. Why does he not ? Had he 
never heard of the ''Come unto me" allocution? 
Could he conceivably have put it aside from a 
preposterous humility ? If he had not heard that, 
had he not heard the Sermon on the Mount, or any 
of the parable-solutions given in the synoptics as 
specially addressed to the twelve disciples ? Can 
Mr. Wright, holding by the central tradition of 
Jesus and the twelve, believe that John had heard 
none of the teachings which he does not repeat ? 
If, on the other hand, he admits wholesale suppres- 
sion in John's case, what becomes of the argument 
above cited ? 

It matters little that Mr. Wright credits John 
with evolving the Logos doctrine out of his own 
profound meditation, and with having " remoulded " 
the sayings of Jesus which he does give. That is 
a standing device of exegesis, Unitarian and Trini- 
tarian alike; and by his account the general oral 
tradition did the same thing indefinitely. But all 
the while Mr. Wright is going a great deal further. 
He alternately insists that every evangelist told all 
he knew, and assumes that the two evangelists who 
are alleged to have been apostles did not. If, he 
writes — 

If, as becomes increasingly probable, a Johannine 
course of teaching was extant in comparatively early 
times, it is not strange that, as S. John dealt chiefly 
with the Judaean ministry, S. Peter should have 
refused to intrude into his brother Apostle's domain. 
They may have agreed at the outset to divide the work 
thus betiveen them. 

It is impossible to reconcile this with Mr. Wright's 



134 THE HISTOEICAL JESUS 

theory of the inclusiveness of the evangeHsts. Why 
should not Mark do what Matthew and John did 
in the terms of the case ? 

Of course this is not the true critical solution ; 
the immediate question is the consistency of Mr. 
Wright's critical principles. To the eye of unbiassed 
criticism the *' Come unto me " logion is not a 
possible oracle at all ; it is an unintelligently inserted 
liturgical formula from the mysteries, misplaced and 
meaningless as a public teaching.^ As regards the 
fair historical inference from the wide difference 
between the synoptic Gospels and the fourth, it is 
not possible to accept any of Mr. Wright's solutions, 
tried by his own tests. To suggest that John had 
not "heard" of the Virgin Birth story is for him 
impossible, unless he post-dates that as he does the 
birth-stories in Luke. If he follows that course, 
what can he make of the 13th chapter of John, 
a palpable interpolation or substitution between the 
12th and the 14th, which form a sequence that the 
13th absolutely breaks ? ^ If that interpolation be 
admitted, what exactly is left to fight for ? 

In any case, the implication that Matthew, the 
apostle, ** had not heard of " what John declares 
to be the first miracle, or of the raising of Lazarus, 
is as destructive of every traditionalist assumption 
as is the implication that John the Apostle had not 
heard of the Sermon on the Mount, or of the 
parables of the mystery of the kingdom. Mark 



* See Christianity and Mythology, 2nd ed. p. 388. 
^ The " Arise, let us go hence," at the end of ch. 14, is another 
interpolation which has no meaning in the context. 



ORTHODOXY AND " ORAL " HYPOTHESIS 135 

and Luke expressly declare that John was present 
at the raising of Jairus' daughter ; and the fourth 
Gospel makes no mention of it. It was perhaps to 
meet cruces of this kind that Mr. Wright makes 
John and Peter " divide between them " the por- 
tions of the ministry ; but such a device simply 
destroys, as we have seen, another main part of his 
case. Mr. Wright may well reject the thesis of 
Mr. Halcombe, who, severely condemning " modern 
criticism," produces a modern criticism of his own, 
which makes John's Gospel the first — another of the 
hopeless devices of traditionalist critics to escape 
from the imbroglio of the tradition. Mr. Halcombe 
gravely reasons that the best Gospel came first ; and 
Mr. Wright pronounces that " such a plan of com- 
position seems unworthy of God and incredible in 
man." ^ But his own theory presents only a 
different set of incredibilities. He accepts without 
a misgiving the most staggering anomalies. " If 
it were not for a single incidental statement in 
S. John" (iv, 1, 2), he writes, "we should have 
concluded confidently that the sacrament of holy 
baptism was first instituted after the Kesurrection." 
John's statement is in fact the sole intimation that 
Jesus or the disciples ever baptized at all ; and it is 
either a designed or redacted equivoque or a flat 
contradiction in terms : — 

When therefore the Lord hneio that the Pharisees 
had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing 
more disciples than John {although Jesus himself 

1 Work cited, p. 209. 



136 THE HISTORICAL JESUS 

baptized not, hut his disciples), he left Judaea, and 
departed again into Galilee. 

The exegesis which can take this for a historical 
datum, and compose it with the theory of an oral 
tradition in which baptism either by Jesus or by 
his disciples never appears, is really outside serious 
discussion. The proposition that, given the main 
tradition, either Jesus or the disciples baptized 
freely, and that yet neither Matthew, Mark, nor 
Luke ever heard of it, is a mere flouting of the 
critical reason to which it professes to appeal. And 
there is no alternative save an honest confession 
that the record is incredible. The whole Christian 
tradition of baptism breaks down on examination, as 
does the record of the acceptance of the higher 
mission of Jesus by John, followed by statements 
affirming the continuance of John's movement and 
teaching alongside of the Jesuine. Mr. Wright is 
severe on the orthodox harmonists in general. *' If 
I am right," he remarks, " the exhausting labours 
and tortuous explanations of the harmonists, in their 
endeavour to reconcile what cannot be reconciled, 
have been wasted." ^ That is exactly what the atten- 
tive reader must regretfully say of Mr. Wright's 
own reconstructions. 

His handling of the problems of the date of the 
crucifixion and the duration of the Ministry is a 
warning to every student who desires to be loyal to 
critical principle. By his final admission, no one 
can tell whether the Ministry lasted one, two,, three, 

1 Id, p. 178. 



OETHODOXY AND "ORAL" HYPOTHESIS 137 



four, ten, or twenty years. He frankly rejects Sir 
William Kamsay's attempt to salve as history Luke's 
story of the census. The alleged procedure, he sees, 
is simply impossible — " S. Luke evidently has 
somewhat misunderstood the situation " — and he 
solves the problem by throwing over Luke's open- 
ing chapters as late accretions. But the question 
of the duration of the Ministry, which is bound up 
with that of the date of the crucifixion, and thus lies 
at the very centre of the whole historic problem, he 
is content to leave as insoluble, yet without a mis- 
giving as to the historicity of the record. 

John makes Jesus go four times to Jerusalem ; 
while in the synoptics we note " the extraordinary 
fact that they do not bring Christ to Jerusalem 
until He entered it to be crucified." ^ John puts 
the cleansing of the temple at the beginning of the 
Ministry, and the synoptics place it at the close. 
Orthodox exegesis then assumes two cleansings, but 
" such a repetition is, to say the least, highly im- 
probable," for Mr. Wright. " What end would such 
a repetition serve ? And if repeated, why should not 
S. Mark or S. John have told us so?"' Why, 
indeed ! So Mr. Wright suggests that the synop- 
tics may have telescoped several years into one. 
"Events in real life move much more slowly."^ 
They certainly do ! 

Yet, on the other hand, " the one-year ministry 
would solve many difficulties. It is the only scheme 
which reconciles S. Luke, S. Matthew, and S. John. 

1 Id. p. 175. 2 j^ p 177 3 j^ p i7g 



138 THE HISTOEICAL JESUS 

Not improbably it is true : the more I consider 
it, the more attractive it appears." ^ Such, evi- 
dently, was the view of the Christian and other 
Gnostics. But Irenseus, the first Father to handle 
the problem, declared for a ministry of about twenty 
years, founding not only on the quotation in John, 
'^ Thou art not yet fifty years old," but on the fact 
that " all the elders who had known John the 
disciple of the Lord in Asia witness that he gave 
them this tradition."^ On the other hand, in 
Mr. Wright's opinion, " ten years is the utmost 
length to which we can stretch the ministry without 
throwing overboard S.Luke's chronology altogether."^ 
Yet Bishop Westcott declared concerning the record 
of Irenaeus that, " however strange it may appear, 
some such view is not inconsistent with the only 
fixed historical dates which we have with regard to 
the Lord's life, the date of His birth, His baptism, 
and the banishment of Pilate." Thus turns the 
kaleidoscope of the tradition of which Harnack has 
latterly affirmed the " essential rightness, with a 
few important exceptions." 

It is hardly necessary to point out that the ''oral" 
hypothesis, like the " documentary " and that of 
scattered logia, is more compatible with the nega- 
tive than with the affirmative answer on the question 
of historicity. Contradictions and anomalies irre- 
concilable with the assumption of a real historical 
process present not difficulty but confirmation to 
the theory of a fictitious production, whether docu- 

1 Id. p. 191. 2 j^^ 136^ 8 j^ p 187^ 



ORTHODOXY AND " ORAL " HYPOTHESIS 139 

mentary or oral, to establish a transforming cult, 
supplying a quasi-historical basis where none such 
existed. Contradictory episodes and dicta stand for 
diverging sects and movements. Save for incidental 
concessions, all the traditionist schools alike ignore 
the grounds for inferring a long-continued modifica- 
tion of the Gospels at many hands ; though, when 
Celsus late in the second century alleged the 
common practice of interpolation, Origen could 
only explain that it was the work of heretics. 
Such a procedure is for the rational critic only 
the natural continuance of the method of forma- 
tion. 

Over the point upon which Mr. Wright most 
completely diverges from the various Unitarian 
schools — his acceptance of the Fourth Gospel as 
essentially historical — we need not here concern 
ourselves. Those who can accept the Fourth and 
the Synoptics cannot be supposed to admit the 
application of criticism to fundamentals at all, how- 
ever critically they may handle secondary issues. 
And they have their defence. The liberalizers who 
see that the Fourth as a whole is a work of inven- 
tion, making free play with previous material, and 
yet cannot conceive that the synoptics had before- 
hand followed a similar method, can make no claim 
to critical consistency. They merely realize that 
the Fourth and the Synoptics cannot all be records 
of a real Life and Teaching, and they decide to 
reject the last rather than the prior documents. 
The argument from *' vividness " and lifehke detail 
simply goes by the board. In the fourth Gospel 



140 THE HISTORICAL JESUS 

there are many more lifelike details than in the 
second ; but that is not allowed to count. 

For the rational inquirer, however, the fact 
remains that the dismissal of the fourth Gospel 
is a beginning of historical as distinct from docu- 
mentary discrimination ; and it is to those who 
have made such a beginning that a further critical 
argument falls to be addressed. Mr. Wright, facing 
a chaos of doctrinal contradictions and chronological 
divergences, falls back trustingly on the reflection 
that " after all we are not saved by the Gospels, 
but by Christ." He has no misgiving as to the 
evangelists being inspired. " Inspiration quickens 
their spiritual perception, but does not altogether 
preserve them from errors of fact": e.g. Mt. i, 9, 
11 ; Mk. iii, 26 ; Lk. ii, 2 ; John xii, 3 ; Acts v, 36 ; 
vii, 16.^ Perhaps Mr. Wright would grant some 
dozens more of errors of fact if pressed ; but his 
faith would not be modified unless he should be 
shaken on the resurrection. " History as well as 
criticism leaves us no room to question this. On 
so sure a foundation is our most holy faith erected." ^ 
For Mr. Wright that is supremely certain which 
a myriad Christian scholars now find incredible. 
And we can but take our leave of him with the 
question of the Jew of Celsus, " Did Jesus come 
into the world for this purpose, that we should not 
believe in him ? " 

1 Id. pp. 222, 223. 2 j^^ p^ 123. 



Chapter XV 

THE METHOD OF M. LOISY 

Turning away, so to speak, to the Gentiles, we 
concentrate our case in countering that of the 
''emancipated" defenders of the historicity of the 
Founder, as put by M. Loisy, the equal of any of 
the German or English professionals in scholarly 
competence, and the superior of some of them in 
candour. Precisely because Catholicism yields 
least preparation for the work of critical science, 
one who slowly makes his way out of it into the 
" liberal " position is reasonably to be credited with 
a special capacity for the task. And he is on the 
whole the most useful theorist for the purposes of 
the "liberal" school, inasmuch as he is prepared 
to give up many documentary items to which others 
needlessly cling. Nonetheless, M. Loisy is a con- 
fident champion of the historicity of the gospel 
Jesus. He does not indeed combine his summary 
presentment of his case with a discussion of the 
myth theory — that he is content to put aside in 
mass with the epithet "superficial"; but he puts 
his own construction all the more unreservedly. 

It is interesting to note his certitudes. No one 
of his school, perhaps, has more frequently claimed 
indubitability on points of inference. For in- 
stance : — 

141 



142 THE HISTOEIGAL JESUS 

The advent of Jesus in the time of the procurator 
Pontius Pilate is a fact as certain as a thousand 
other facts on the subject of which no one dreams 
of raising the sHghtest suspicion ; it is 7iot doubtful 
that he announced the speedy coming of the kingdom 
of God since that idea which is the funda- 
mental idea of the preaching of Christ in the 
synoptics, was incontestahly that of his first disciples 
and Paul 

Great as are the real obscurities of the evangelical 
history, they are less numerous than they seem, 
and without doubt also less considerable on the 
important points. 

Paul does not say that Jesus predicted his 

death and resurrection. He does not even say 
what was the ground for his execution ; but it does 
not seem doubtful that this ground was precisely the 
announcement of that kingdom of God which the 
apostles and Paul himself preached. 

Paul and the other apostles practised exorcisms 
in the name of Jesus on certain patients. It is 
told that Jesus had done the same, and without 
doubt he had really done it, with still more assur- 
ance and more success than his disciples. 

He [Jesus] luithout doubt never frequented the 
schools of the rabbins. 

His family was certainly pious. 

One fact is certain, that a seizure was concerted 
of which he [Judas] was the principal agent. 

It was luithout doubt arranged [at the house of 
the high priest at earliest daylight] that they should 
content themselves with denouncing the Galilean 
prophet to the Eoman authority. 

Without doubt he [Jesus] expected to his last 
moment the succour which only death could bring 
him. 

It was Peter, it loould seem, who first obtained 
the proof and the definitive certainty [of the resur- 
rection] that faith called for. One day, at dawn, 
fishing on the lake of Tiberias, he saw Jesus. 



THE METHOD OF M. LOISY 143 

Already, without doubt, he had assembled around 
him the other disciples/ 

It is enviable to be so sans doute on so many 
points in a narrative of which so much has had 
to be abandoned as myth. The odd thing is that 
with all these certitudes M. Loisy introduces his 
book with the declaration, " We must \il faut] now 
renounce writing the Hfe of Jesus. All the critics 
agree in recognizing that the materials are in- 
sufficient for such an enterprise."^ And then, after 
an introduction in which he contests the view that 
nothing can be written with certainty, he gives us 
a Life of Jesus which is simply Eenan revised ! 

It is certainly brief; but that is because he is 
content to say only what he thinks there is to say, 
whereas his predecessors were at more or less pains 
to embed the thin thread of biography in a large 
mat of non-biographical material. M. Loisy seems 
to have become a little confused in the process of 
prefixing a critical introduction to three chapters of 
the former introduction to his commentary on the 
synoptics. " The present little book," he writes, 
*' does not pretend to be that history which it is 
impossible to recover." Naturally not. But it 
proffers a Life of Jesus all the same. 

M. Loisy is quite satisfied that there was a Jesus 
of Nazareth, son of Joseph, a " worker in wood, 
carpenter, furniture maker, wheelwright." ^ "And 

^ Jesus et la iraditioJi 6vangiligue, 1910, pp. 9, 12, 36, 40, 56, 57, 
99, 102, 105, 113. 

^ So, for instance, Wernle : "On the basis of these oldest sources 
we can write no biography, no so-called Life of Jesus " {Die Quellen 
des Lebens Jesu, 1905, p. 82). ^ Work cited, p. 56 sq. 



144 THE HISTOEICAL JESUS 

Jesus followed originally the same profession." 
When he began his preaching of the speedy coming 
of the heavenly kingdom, "his mother Mary was 
a widow, with numerous children. It is not certain 

that Jesus was the eldest " "It was probably 

John the Baptist who, unknowingly, awoke the 
vocation of the young carpenter of Nazareth. The 
crisis which traversed Judaea had evoked a prophet. 
This preaching of terror made a great impres- 
sion John was usually on the Jordan, baptizing 

in the river those touched by his burning words. 

Jesus was drawn like many others He was 

baptized, and remained some time in the desert.'' 

And so it goes on. " What appears most prob- 
able " is that Jesus had already " passed some time 
in solitude. A time of reflection and of preparation 
was indispensable between the life of the carpenter 
and the manifestation of the preacher of the 
evangel. Pushed to the desert by the sentiment of 
his vocation, Jesus was bound {devait) to be pursued 
by a more and more clear consciousness of that 
vocation." Thus M. Loisy can after all expand 
his sources. It was after the imprisonment of the 
Baptist that Jesus felt he " was to replace him, and 
by the better title because he felt himself predestined 
to become the human chief of the Kingdom, there 
to fill the function of Messiah." But "almost in 
spite of himself " he worked miracles. From his 
first stay at Capernaum the sick were brought to 
him to heal ; and, fearing that the thaumaturg 
might hurt the preacher of the Kingdom, he left 
the place, only to be followed up and forced to make 



THE METHOD OE M. LOISY 145 

cures. *'He operated with a peculiar efficacy on 
the category of patients supposed to be specially 

possessed by the demon He spoke to them with 

authority, and calm returned, at least for a time, to 
those troubled and unquiet souls." As to the greater 
cures, M. Loisy observes that " perhaps " there was 
ascribed to the healer the revivification of a dead 
maiden. On the instantaneous cures of lepers and 
the blind he naturally says nothing whatever. 

The dilemma of M. Loisy here recalls that of 
Professor Schmiedel over the same problem. The 
latter, claiming that it would be " difficult to deny " 
healing powers to Jesus, in view of the testimonies, 
is fain to argue that the Healer's personal claim 
(Mt. xi, 5 ; Lk. vii, 22 ; not in Mk.) to have healed 
the sick, the blind, the deaf, the lepers, and raised 
the dead, meant only a spiritual ministration, inas- 
much as the claim concludes: "the poor also have 
the Gospel preached to them." On this view the 
assumed healing power really counts for nothing ; 
and the last clause, which Schmiedel contends 
would be an anti-climax if the healings were real, 
becomes absolutely an anti-climax of the most 
hopeless kind. One day men will dismiss such 
confusions by noting that the theory of spiritual 
healing, an attempt to evade the mass of miracle, 
is only miracle-mongering of another kind. Are we 
to take it that regeneration of the morally dead, 
deaf, blind, and leprous is to be effected wholesale by 
a little preaching ? Did the Christian community 
then consist wholly or mainly of these ? 

M. Loisy in turn blenches at a claim in which 

L 



146 THE mSTOEICAL JESUS 

" raising the dead " figures as a customary thing, 
with cures of leprosy and blindness ; and he too 
falls back on the " spiritual " interpretation/ failing 
to note the flat fallacy of making the preaching to 
the poor at once a contrast and a climax to the 
spiritual healings, which also, on the hypothesis, are 
precisely matters of preaching. The Teacher is 
made to say: " I raise the spiritually dead, and cure 
the spiritually leprous, deaf, and blind, by preaching 
to them : to the poor I just preach." Schmiedel 
does not see that the preaching of the Gospel to the 
poor is added as the one thing that could be said to 
be done for them, who would otherwise have had no 
benefit ; and that on his own view he ought to treat 
this as a late addition. On the contrary, he insists 
that the ''evangelists" could not have thought of 
adding it ; and that it makes an excellent climax 
if we take the healings to be purely spiritual. 

The rational argument would be, of course, that 
the first writer did make the Lord talk figuratively ; 
and that a later redactor, taking the words literally, 
added the item of the poor, which he could not have 
done if he took them figuratively. But the irredu- 
cible fallacy is the assumption that as a figurative 
claim the speech is historic, one order of miracle being 
held allowable when another is not. Schmiedel has 
exemplified his own saying that " with very few 
exceptions all critics fall into the very grave error of 
immediately accepting a thing as true as soon as 
they have found themselves able to trace it to a 

^ Les ^vangiles, i, 663 sq. 



THE METHOD OF M. LOISY 147 



by substituting spiritual for physical miracle we 
acquire a right to claim historicity. And by the 
claim we simply cancel the " fame " of the records. 

M. Loisy, committing himself to some acts of 
healing where Schmiedel, after accepting the general 
claim, commits himself to none, balances vaguely 
between acts of faith-healing so-called and cures of 
sheer insanity, and accepts the tradition of 

an unfruitful point at Nazareth.^ " A prophet is 
not without honour, save in his own country and 
among his own kin, and in his own house," Jesus 
had said before the disdainful astonishment of his 
fellow-citizens and the incredulity of his family ; 
and he could work no miracle in that place. 

M. Loisy, it will be observed, here assumes that we 
are dealing with real cures, and tacitly rejects the 
qualifying clauses in Mark vi, 5, and Matthew xiii, 
58, as he well may. They are indeed stamped with 
manipulation. '* He could there do no mighty work 
save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk and 
healed them," says the first ; "he did not many 
mighty works there because of their unbelief," says 
the other. Such passages raise in an acute form 
the question how any statement in the Gospels can 
reasonably be taken as historical. What were the 
alleged mighty works done elsewhere save acts of 

' Encyc. Bib. as cited, col. 1,872. 

^ It should be remembered that the Gospels do not specify 
Nazareth, but speak simply of "his own country" {rraTpis). Pro- 
fessor Burkitt, recognizing the mass of difficulties in regard to 
Nazareth, suggests that that name is a " literary error," and that 
the TTttTpis of Jesus was Chorazin (Proc. of Brit. Acad. vol. v, 1912, 
pp. 17-18). 



148 THE HISTOEIOAL JESUS 

healing the sick? And how many cases for such 
heahng would naturally be presented by one small 
hamlet ? If, again, all the healings were spiritual, 
what are we left with beyond the truism that sinners 
who did not believe were unbelieving ? 

As the modifications produce pure counter-sense, 
it is critically permissible to surmise that they were 
lacking in the first copies, and were inserted merely 
to guard against profane cavils. But as the whole 
episode is found only in Matthew and Mark, it 
cannot figure in Dr. Petrie's Nucleus ; and for 
similar reasons it is absent from the Primitive 
Gospel of the school of Bernhard Weiss. M. Loisy, 
recognizing that it is the kind of item that Luke 
would avoid for tactical reasons, is loyal enough to 
accept it as historical without the modifying words, 
and seeks no better explanation than that given in 
the cited words of Jesus. 

For those who aim at a rational comprehension of 
the documents, the critical induction is that the 
story was inserted for a reason ; and the explanation 
which satisfies M. Loisy is so ill-considered that it 
only emphasizes the need. A prophet is likely to be 
looked at askance by his own people : yes, if he 
be an unimpressive one ; but upon what critical 
principles is M. Loisy entitled to assume, as he 
constantly does, that the historic Jesus made a 
profound and ineffaceable impression upon all who 
came in contact with him, from the moment of his 
call to his disciples, and that nevertheless he had 
not made the slightest impression of superiority 
upon his own kinsmen and fellow-villagers, up to 



THE METHOD OF M. LOISY 149 

the age of thirty ? How can such propositions 
cohere ? Jesus has only to leave Nazareth and 
to command men to follow him, in order to be 
reverently recognized as a Superman : for M. Loisy, 
it is his mere personality that creates the faith 
which, after his death, makes his adherents pro- 
claim him as a re-arisen God. Is this the kind of 
personality that in an eastern village would be 
known merely as that of " the carpenter," or the 
carpenter's son ? 

M. Loisy, it is true, claims that Jesus had needed 
a period of solitude and meditation in the desert to 
make him a teacher, thus partly implying that 
before that experience the destined prophet might 
not be recognizable as such. But is it a historic 
proposition that the short time of solitude had 
worked a complete transformation? Was a quite 
normal or commonplace personality capable of such 
a transfiguration in a natural sense? That the 
critic had not even asked himself the question is 
made plain by his complete failure to raise the 
cognate question in regard to the marvellous healing 
powers with which he unhesitatingly credits the 
teacher, on the strength of the wholly supernatur- 
alist testimony of the Gospels. These powers, accord- 
ing to M. Loisy, were also the instantaneous result 
of the short period of solitude in the desert. What 
pretensions can such a theory make to be in con- 
formity with historical principles? Cannot M. 
Loisy see that he has only been miracle-monger- 
ing with a difference ? 

It is bad enough that we should be asked to take 



150 THE HISTOEIOAL JESUS 

for granted, on the strength of a typically Eastern 
record of wholesale thaumaturgy, a real ''natural" 
gift for healing a variety of nervous disorders. But 
a natural gift of such a kind at least presupposes 
some process of development. M. Loisy oblivi- 
ously asks us to believe that all of a sudden a man 
who had throughout his life shown no abnormal 
powers or qualities whatever, began to exercise them 
upon the largest scale almost immediately after he 
had left his native village. Now, whatever view be 
taken of the cynical formula that a prophet has no 
honour in his own village, it is idle to ask us to 
believe that a great healer has none. The local 
healer of any sort has an easy opening ; and the 
redacted Gospels indicate uneasy recognition of the 
plain truth that Jesus needed only to heal the 
sick at Nazareth as elsewhere to conquer unbelief. 
It was precisely the cures that, in the Gospel 
story, had won him fame in the surround- 
ing country. M. Loisy has merely burked the 
problem. 

A little later he takes as historical the ''terrible 
invectives " pronounced against Capernaum and the 
neighbouring cities, which he attempts to explain. 
After all, the multitude had not gone beyond a 
" benevolent curiosity, quite ready to transform 
itself into an ironical incredulity. They had seen 
the miracles ; they awaited meantime the kingdom, 
without otherwise preparing for it ; and as the 
kingdom did not come they inchned less and less 
to believe in it." So they were doomed to a terrible 
judgment for their faithlessness. But why then was 



THE METHOD OF M. LOISY 151 

nothing said of the wholly unbelieving Nazareth ? ^ 
If the towns which would not receive the disciples 
were to be testified against, what should be the fate 
of the hostile birthplace ? 

Before such problems, the method of '' liberal " 
accommodation here as always breaks down. To 
the eye of the evolutionist there is no great mystery. 
The avowal that the Founder either could not or did 
not work wonders at Nazareth might serve any one 
of several conceivable purposes. It might meet the 
cavils of those who in a later day found and said 
that nothing was known at Nazareth of a wonder- 
working Jesus who had dwelt there ; even as the 
often-repeated story of the command to healed 
persons to keep silence could avail to turn the 
attacks of investigating doubters in regard to the 
miraculous cures. Or it might serve either to 
impugn the pretensions of those who at one stage 
of the movement called themselves " Nazarenes " 
in the sense of followers of the man of Nazareth, or 
to include the birthplace with the family a.nd the 
disciples in that disparagement of the Jewish sur- 
roundings which would arise step for step with the 
spread of the Gentile movement. Any of these 
explanations is reasonable beside the thesis that a 
man gifted with marvellous healing powers, suddenly 
developed without any previous sign of them, could 
either find no one in his own village to let him try 
them, or to recognize them even when applied there. 



^ See above, p. 147, note, as to the theory of Prof. Burkitt, that 
Jesus was born at Chorazin. On that view, the unbelieving i)irth,- 
place was denounced. 



162 THE HISTOEIOAL JESUS 



while the country round about, ex hypothesis was 
ringing with his fame. And the criticism which 
puts us off with such solutions is really not well 
entitled to impute " superficiality " to those who 
reject it. 

The whole " carpenter " story, in which M. Loisy 
sees no difficulty, is one of the weakest of the Gospel 
attempts at circumstantiality. A trade or calling 
for the Messiah, as a true Jew, was perhaps as 
requisite in the eyes of some Jews as either a 
Davidic descent or an argument to prove that 
Davidic descent was for the Messiah unnecessary — 
both of which requirements the Gospels meet. 
Every good Jew, we are told, was required to have 
a handicraft or profession. A " Ben- Joseph," again, 
was called-for to meet the requirement, common 
among the Samaritans but not confined to them, 
of a Messiah so named.^ But how came it that 
** the carpenter " of Mark is only '' the carpenter's 

^ Strauss, in pointing to this detail in Jewish. Messianism {Das 
Leben Jesu, Abschn. Ill, Kap. i, § 112) abstained from stressing it 
on the score that there are no certain traces of it before the 
Babylonian Gemara, the compilation of which took place in the 
Christian era, and the book Sohar, of which the age is doubtful. 
Principal Drummond {The Jewish Messiah, 1877, p. 357) further 
agreed, with Gfrorer, that the doctrine of a Messiah Ben- Joseph is 
extremely unlikely to have been pre-Christian. The obvious answer 
is that it is overwhelmingly unlikely to have been post-Christian ! 
But that thesis is apparently not now maintained even by orthodox 
scholars. Bousset, who in his confused way suggests that the notion 
of a sufiering and dying Messiah "would seem to have been suggested 
by disputations with the Christians " {The Anti-Christ Legend, 1896, 
p. 103), avows immediately that Wiinsche traces " a very distinct 
application of Zechariah xii, 10, to the Messiah Ben Joseph" in the 
Jerusalem Talmud ; and goes on to suggest that the notions of the 
"two witnesses " and the two Messiahs " may rest upon a common 
source, which, however, is still to be sought further back than 
Jewish tradition." 



THE METHOD OF M. LOISY 153 

son" in Matthew? We can conceive the Gentihz- 
ing Luke putting both statements aside as ill-suited 
to his purpose, his Jesus being a God competing 
with Gentile Gods ; but if there really was an early 
knowledge that Jesus was a carpenter, why should 
Matthew minimize it? And how came it that 
Origen ^ knew of no Gospel " current in the 
churches " in which Jesus was described as a 
carpenter ? 

In this matter, as about the Infancy generally, 
the apocryphal gospels are as rich in detail as the 
canonical are poor. Again and again does Joseph 
figure in them as a working carpenter, or plough- 
maker, or house-builder.^ The words of Origen 
might imply that it was from some such source 
that Celsus drew his statement that Jesus was a 
carpenter ; and yet none of the preserved apocrypha 
speaks of Jesus as working at carpentry save by 
way of such miracles as that of the elongation of 
the piece of wood. Having regard to the mythical 
aspect of the whole, we suggest an easily misinter- 
preted Gnostic source for the basis. For some 
schools of the Gnostics, the Jewish God was the 
Demiourgos, the Artisan or Creator, a subordinate 
being in their divine hierarchy. The word could 
mean an artisan of any kind ; and architector, the 
term in the Latin version of Thomas, points to a 



^ Against Celsus, vi, 36, end. 

2 P}'otevang., ix, 1 ; Pseud. Matt., x, 1 ; xxxvii, 1 sq.; Hist, of 
Joseph the Carpenter ; Thomas, 1st. Gr. form, xiii, 1 sq.; 2nd Gr. 
form, xi, 1 sq.; Lat. xi, 2 sq.; Arabic Gosp. of the Infancy, xxxviii, 
xxxix. 



154 THE HISTOEICAL JESUS 

reflex of the idea of " creator " which attached to 
the Gnostic term. 

That the doctrine of the Derniourgos was ah^eady 
current in Jewish circles before the period com- 
monly assigned to Christian Gnosticism has been 
shown with much probability by Dr. S. Karppe. 
In a Talmudic passage given as cited by Eabbi 
Jochanan ben Saccai before the middle of the first 
century, c.E., there is denunciation of those who 
"spare not the glory of the Creator"; and other 
passages interpret this in the sense of a heresy 
which " diminishes God " and " sows division 
between Israel and his God." ^ Debate of this 
kind emerges with the name of the Judseo-Christian 
heretic Cerinthus. For him, Jesus, though naturally 
born, was entered at his baptism by Christ, the son 
not of the Jewish God, the Demiourgos, but of the 
Supreme God.^ There might well be, however, 
round Cerinthus, who retained Jewish leanings, 
Jews who held to the Judaeo-Christian primary 
position that Jesus was the son of Yahweh. By 
some early Gnostics he could hardly fail to be so 
named. Could not then the Gnostic " Son of the 
Demiourgos," the Artificer, become for more literal 
Christists '' son of the carpenter," even as the 
mystic seamless robe of Pagan myth became for 



1 Karppe, Essais de critique et d'histoire de philosophie, 1902, 
pp. 51-52. 

2 irenaous, Ag. Heresies, i, 26 ; Hippolytus, Ref. of all Heresies, 
vii, 21. See Baur, Das Christenthum, p. 174. (Eng. trans, i, 199.) 
The fact that Gerinthas is the earliest known Christian Gnostic, 
being traditionally associated with the Apostle John (Euseb. Hist. 
Eccl. iii, 28) goes far to support Dr. Karppe's view that Gnosticism 
entered Christianity from the Jewish side. 



THE METHOD OF M. LOISY 155 

some a garment which had to be cut in pieces to 
be divided ? 

Met by such suggestions, M. Loisy tells us that 
we are superficial. But is he otherwise? Is he 
not simply evading his problem? Can he see 
nothing strange in the sudden mention of the 
carpenter in a " primary " gospel which had set 
out with a divine personage and had never men- 
tioned his parents or upbringing ? On the mythic 
theory the apparition of the Messiah without ante- 
cedents is precisely what was to be expected ; if 
there was any clear Jewish expectation on the point, 
it was that he should come unlooked for, unheralded 
save, on one view, by ''Elias."^ Thus the Gospel 
record fits into the myth theory from the outset, 
while on the assumption of historicity it . is but 
a series of enigmas. 

Holding by that assumption, M. Loisy is forced 
to violent measures to reconcile the isolated Marcan 
mention of " the son of Mary and brother of James 
and Joses and Judas and Simon " with the repeated 
mentions in the closing chapters of (1) " Mary the 
mother of James the less and of Joses and Salome ; 
tvho lohen he tvas in Galilee followed [Jesus] a7id 
7ninistered unto him'') (2) *' Mary the mother of 
Joses"; and (3) ''Mary the mother of James and 
Salome." In these closing chapters this Mary the 
mother of James and Joses and Salome figures first 

* Cp. Apoc. of Baruch, xxix, 3 ; 4 Esdras, vii, 28 ; xiii, 32 ; 
Jolin, vii, 27 ; Justin, Dial, cum Tryph., 8 ; and Charles's note on 
Apoe. of Baruch, as cited, giving these and other references. See 
also Schodde's ed. of the Book of Enoch, pp. 47, 57 ; and the Rev. 
W. J. Deane's Pseudepigrapha, 1891, p. 17. 



156 THE HISTOEICAL JESUS 

as simply one who followed and ministered to Jesus, 
then as the mother of Joses, then as the mother of 
James and Salome, but never as the mother of 
Jesus. By what right does M. Loisy extract his 
certitude from the prior text ? 

His simple course is to decide that Mary the 
mother of James and of Joses and of Salome in the 
closing chapters is not Mary the mother of James 
and Joses and Judas and Simon in chapter vi. 
"Certain Fathers," he had noted in his great work 
on the Synoptics (citing in particular Chrysostom), 
" desirous of making the synoptics accord with 
John, identify Mary the mother of James and Joses 
[in ch. xv] with the mother of Jesus ; but it is 
evident that if the synoptics had thought of the 
mother of the Saviour they would not have thus 
designated her."^ Precisely! And if the Gospel 
of Mark in its original form had contained the 
passage in chapter vi, how could it possibly have 
spoken in chapter xv of a Mary the mother of 
James and Joses without indicating either that she 
was or was not the same Mary? Would it have 
deliberately specified two Maries, each the mother 
of a James and a Joses, without a word of differen- 
tiation ? 

To the faithful critic there is only one course 
open. He is bound to conclude that the passage in 
chapter vi is a late interpolation, the work of an 
inventor who had perhaps either accepted or antici- 
pated the Johannine record that Mary the mother 

^ Les dvangiles synoptiqties, 1907-8, ii, 697. 



THE METHOD OF M. LOISY 157 

of Jesus was present at the crucifixion, but who did 
not — perhaps in his copy of Mark could not — com- 
pletely carry out his purpose by making the Mary 
at the crucifixion the mother of the crucified Lord. 

We are not here concerned with the exegesis of 
those Fathers who desired to save the perpetual 
virginity of Mary ; our business is simply with the 
texts. And we can but say that if, with M. Loisy, 
we make the Mary of chapter xv another Mary than 
her of chapter vi, we are bound on the same prin- 
ciple to find a third and a fourth Mary in '' the 
mother of Joses " (xv, 47) and the '' mother of 
James and Salome" (xvi, 1).^ It will really not 
do. The mythological theory, which traces the 
mourning Maries to an ancient liturgy of a God- 
sacrifice and finds the mother-Mary of chapter vi 
an alien element, may seem to M. Loisy super- 
ficial, but it meets a problem which he simply 
evades. 

The only serious difficulties for M. Loisy, appar- 
ently, are the miracles and the prophecies. On the 
latter he makes no use of the Savonarola argument ; 
and in his smaller work he ignores the "rock" 
text ; but for him " the scene of Caesarea Phihppi, 
with the Messianic confession of Peter, seems 
thoroughly historic"; and on the other hand the 
story of Peter's denial of his Master causes him no 
misgiving. For a rational reader, the conception 



^ The varying designations, certainly, point to repeated additions 
to the text. But the question arises whether the Mapia 17 'Iwctt; or 
Mapta 'Iwcr?; of Mk. xv, 47, may have been meant to specify " Mary 
the wife of Joseph." 



158 THE HISTORICAL JESUS 

of the shamed Peter figuring soon afterwards as the 
merciless judge and supernatural slayer of the 
unhappy Ananias is extremely indigestible. The 
personage thus evolved is not only detestable but 
incredible. How could the coward apostle figure 
primarily and continuously as a pillar of the Church 
described? Harnack's method, as Professor Blass 
complains/ treats the denigration of Peter as the 
result of the strife between the Judaizing and the 
Gentilizing sections of the early Church ; it is the 
natural hypothesis.. Without it we are left to the 
detestable and impossible figure of the apostle who 
denies his Lord and has no mercy for a weak 
brother who merely keeps back part of a sum of 
money when professing freely to donate the whole. 
The critical reader will prefer to follow Harnack. 

But if we give up the story of the Denial, how 
shall we retain those which exalt and glorify the 
Judaizing apostle ? If we give up Matthew's 
" rock " texts, with what consistency can we take 
as pure history the episode in Mark in which Peter, 
first of the twelve, declares " Thou art the Christ," 
eliciting the charge to " tell no man of him," 
followed by the prediction of death and resurrection, 
spoken *' openly " ? The episode in Mark passes 
into, and in Matthew is followed by, the fierce 
rebuke to the expostulating Peter, " Get thee behind 
me, Satan, for thou mindest not the things of God, 
but the things of men" — a strange sequel to 
Matthew's " Blessed art thou, Simon Bar- Jonah ; 

1 Entstehung, p. 22. Of course Harnack's method is really only 
a development of Baur's. 



THE METHOD OF M. LOISY 159 

for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, 
but my Father which is in Heaven." 

This is one of the passages that force the conclu- 
sion either that " Mark " had before him the fuller 
record, in " Matthev^ " or elsev^here, and turned it 
from a Petrine to an anti-Petrine purpose, or that 
a redactor did so. There is no escape from the 
evidence that we are dealing with two sharply con- 
flicting constructions. The " Blessed art thou " 
passage and the '' Satan" passage will not cohere. 
Which came first? Had "Luke" either before 
him ? His " Get thee behind me, Satan " (iv, 8 ; 
A. v.), addressed to the devil in the Temptation, is 
ejected from the revised text as being absent from 
most of the ancient codices ; and its presence in the 
Alexandrine suggests an attempt to get in some- 
where a saying which otherwise had no place in the 
third Gospel. The absence alike of the blessing 
and the aspersion on Peter sets up the surmise that 
both are quite late, and that the insertion of one 
elicited the other. 

Again and again we find in the Gospels such 
traces of a strife over Petrine pretensions. In the 
story of the Denial, which we have found so incom- 
patible with the attitude ascribed to Peter in the 
Acts, everyone since Strauss has recognized a process 
of redaction and interpolation. M. Loisy, saying 
nothing of the central problem, avowedly finds in 
Mark '' a manipulation, dehberate and ill-managed, 
of a more simple statement." ^ This might have 

^ Les ivangiles synoptiqiies, ii, 617. 



160 THE HISTOBICAL JESUS 

sufficed to put him on his guard ; but all he has to 
say, after reducing the confused details to the 
inferred " simpler statement," is that " if there is 
in any part of the second Gospel a personal recol- 
lection of Peter it is the story of the denial in the 
form in which Mark found it." ^ Which makes sad 
havoc of the Peter-Mark tradition ; for the story of 
the denial betrays itself as a late anti-Petrine inven- 
tion, as aforesaid. 



Id. p. 618. 



Chapter XVI 

THE TKIAL CKUX 

Thus lax in his treatment of the subsidiary historical 
problems, M. Loisy is of necessity accommodating 
when he faces those which he recognizes to be 
central. Over the story of the "purification" of 
the temple — which Origen found at once unjustifiable 
and signally miraculous, since it was inconceivable 
that so great a multitude should have yielded to the 
mere attack of one man with a scourge of small 
cords — he has again no misgivings. He feels that 
some such story was needed to motive the priestly 
action against Jesus.^ In the story of the astonish- 
ing sophism ascribed to Jesus on the subject of the 
tribute to Caesar he sees only ''cleverness" {habilete) ; 
and yet he accepts as historical — again by necessity 
of his thesis — Jesus's admission that he claimed to 
be king of the Jews. In the story of the betrayal 
he sees fit, docilely following Brandt, to allege " a 
little confused fighting, some blows given and 
received " over and above the cutting off of the ear 
of Malchus, an imagined item which he finds in 
none of the Gospels. Over the prayers of the Lord 
while the disciples slept he had hesitated in his 
commentary ; ^ falling back on the notable avowal 

* Jisus et la tradition, p. 92. ^ Les 4vangiles synoptiques, ii, 662. 

161 M 



162 THE HISTOEICAL JESUS 

that "the sort of incoherence which results from 
describing a scene which passed while the witnesses 
[!] were asleep is loithout doubt to be explained by 
the origin and character of the 7iarratwe rather 
than by a Jiegligence of the 7iarrator.'' For once, 
I unreservedly assent to the sans doute. Quite 
unwittingly, M. Loisy has put himself in line 
with our mythical theory, which postulates a drama 
as the origin of the narrative. 

All the same, he accepts the narrative as history ; 
and he sees nothing in the fusion of the two speeches : 

"Sleep on It is enough Arise now," 

though he rejects the proposal of Bleek, Volkmar, 
and Wellhausen to turn " Sleep on " into an in- 
terrogation, ^ and admits that the "It is enough " is 
an " unclear and very insufficient transition " from 
" Sleep on" to " Arise." Once more, which is the 
more superficial, this lame handling or the recogni- 
tion of a transcribed drama with two speeches 
combined because of the omission of an exit and 
an entrance, in what M. Loisy admits to be " a 
highly dramatic mise en scbne " ? 

But it is over the trial in the house of the high 
priest that M. Loisy most astonishingly redacts the 
narrative. In his commentary he recognizes that 
Matthew's story, in which the scribes and the elders 
are "already gathered together" in the dead of 
night when Jesus is brought for trial, and the story 
of Mark, in which they " come together with " the 
high priest, are equally incredible; and that the 

1 Id. p. 570. 



THE TEIAL CRUX 163 

story of the quest for witnesses in the night is still 
more so. 

Once again we have a sans doute with which we 
can agree. *' The nocturnal procedure, no doubt, did 
not take place." ^ Kecognizing further that a Jewish 
blasphemer was by the Levitical law to be stoned, 
not crucified, he simply gives up the whole narrative 
as a product of " the Christian tradition," bent on 
saddling the Jews rather than the Eomans with the 
responsibility of the crucifixion.^ In his smaller 
work he simply cuts the knot and alleges : — 

' As soon as the first daylight had come {dds les 
premiers lueurs du jour), a reunion was held at the 
house of {chez) the chief priest," where it was with- 
out doubt [!] arranged that they should content 
themselves with denouncing the Galilean prophet to 
the Roman authority as a disturber and a false 
Messiah. But it was necessary to arrange the terms 
of the accusation and distribute the roles, to get 
together and prepare the witnesses. These measures 
were soon taken. As soon as morning had come (dds 
le matiii) the priests brought their prisoner chained 
before the tribunal of Pontius Pilate.^ 

One certainly cannot call this manipulation of the 
texts '* superficial." It is sheer deliberate dissolu- 
tion and reconstruction of the narrative, by way 
of substituting something more plausible for the 
incredible original, when all the while the credibility 
of the original is the thesis maintained. And yet 
even the reconstruction is so thoughtlessly managed 
that we get only a slightly less impossible account. 
Only a scholar who never followed the details of a 

1 Id. p. 599. 2 j^^ p^ 610. 

^ Jisus et la tradition, p. 102. 



164 THE HISTORICAL JESUS 

legal process could suggest that the task of hunting 
up witnesses and arranging a procedure could be 
carried through between '' earliest dawn " and 
** morning." And for the headlong haste of such 
a procedure, only an hour or so after the arrest of 
the prisoner, no explanation is even suggested. A 
violent impossibility in the record, destructive of all 
faith in its historicity at this point, is sought to be 
saved by a violent redaction which simply ** makes 
hay" of the very documents founded on. And 
this illicit violence is resorted to because M. Loisy 
recognizes that if he is to retain a historical Jesus at 
all he must bring the whole trial story into a 
historical shape. He certainly had cause to take 
drastic measures. Long ago it was pointed out that 
by Jewish law a prisoner must not be condemned to 
death on the day of his trial : Judicia de capitalibus 
finiunt eodem die si sint ad ahsolutionem ; si vero 
sint ad damnationem, finiuntur die sequente} This 
might alone suffice to " bring into doubt " the 
priestly trial ; to say nothing of the modern Jewish 
protest that a capital prosecution and execution on 
either the day after or the day of the Passover, 
at the instance of the High Priest, was unthinkable.^ 
There were good reasons, then, for seeking to found 
on the trial before Pilate. 

Let us now survey broadly the process of historical 
criticism thus far. 1. At an early stage the re- 
constructors gave up as pure fiction the third trial 



^ Babl. Sanhedrin, ap. Lightfoot, cited by Strauss. 
^ Compare the other Jewish declarations coUeoted by Brandt, 
Die evangelische Oeschichte, 1893, p. 150 sq. 



THE TEIAL CEUX 165 

before Herod, which appears solely in Luke. They 
did not ask what historical knowledge, or what sense 
of history, can have existed in a community among 
which such an absolute invention found ready 
currency. 2. The next step was to reject as 
" unhistorical " the narrative of the fourth Gospel, 
in which Jesus (a) is examined by Annas the high 
priest, but in no sense tried ; (6) is then sent bound 
to Caiaphas the high priest ; (c) is immediately 
passed on from Caiaphas to Pilate, who examines 
him within doors while the priests remain outside, 
there being thus no Jewish witnesses; (d) tells 
Pilate " My kingdom is not of this world," and 
convinces him that he is not punishable. Eejecting 
this account, as they well might, the reconstructors 
failed to ask themselves what such an invention 
signifies. 3. Next disappears the so-called his- 
torical narrative of the trial before the high priest 
and chief priests in the synoptics.^ That in turn, 
taken on its merits, is found flagrantly incredible ; 
and now M. Loisy in effect puts it aside, reducing 
it to a fundamentally different form. 

Three of the trial stories are thus in turn rejected 
as hopelessly unhistorical. And now we are invited 
to regard as "incontestable" the fourth, the trial 
before Pilate as related in the synoptics ; the 
Johannine version being dismissed as fiction. In 
the scientific sense of the word^ the rejected stories 



* In Luke the high priest is not in the story, and the chief 
priests and others take as well as try the prisoner. 

2 See Christianity and Mythology, 2nd ed. pp. xviii, 2, 122 ; 
Pagan Christs, 2nd ed. p. 287, note 4. 



166 THE HISTOEIOAL JESUS 

have been classed as myths. And still we are told 
that the " myth-theory " is outside discussion. 

Yet, even in coming to the trial before Pilate, 
M. Loisy has to begin by noting the improbability 
that the entire sanhedrim should have attended it, 
as is alleged by the synoptics. " In the minds of 
the evangelists the sanhedrim represents the Jews, 
and it was the Jews who caused the death of 
Jesus. Hence the general expressions which the 
redactors used the more willingly because they were 
very incompletely informed on the facts." ^ Still, 
the trial must stand good. Judas goes the way of 
myth; but the unintelligible procedure of Pilate 
must be salved. With his general loyalty to the 
facts as he sees them M. Loisy notes, with Brandt, 
that in the synoptics as in John there is no Jesuist 
eye-witness or auditor to report for the faithful 
what took place. "Here begin the gaps in the 
Passion-history," remarks Brandt.^ *' Tradition 
could learn only by indirect ways the general 
features of the interrogation and the principal 
incidents which passed between the morning of 
Friday and the hour of the crucifixion," says Loisy.* 
The student really concerned to get at history is 
compelled to pronounce that the record thus avowed 
to be mainly guesswork is myth. Let us take the 
report as we have it in Mark : — 

And straightway [after the condemnation by the 
priests] in the morning the chief priests, with the 

* Les dvangiles, ii, 624. 

^ Die evangelische Oeschichte, 1893, p. 88. 

^ Les ivangiles, ii, 632. 



THE TEIAL CEUX 167 

elders and scribes and the whole council, held a 
consultation, and bound Jesus and carried him 
away, and delivered him up to Pilate. And Pilate 
asked him. Art thou the King of the Jews ? And 

he answering saith unto him. Thou sayest And 

Pilate again asked him, saying, Answerest thou 
nothing ? behold how many things they accuse thee 
of. But Jesus no more answered anything; inso- 
much that Pilate marvelled. 

To this meagre record, in which a capital case is 
carried before the governor without the slightest 
documentary preliminaries, and in which he begins 
to interrogate before a word has been said about the 
indictment, Matthew adds nothing save the story of 
Pilate's wife's dream, which the reconstructors are 
fain to dismiss ; while Luke, who sees fit to premise 
specific charges of dJnti-Eoman sedition, follows 
them up simply by Pilate's question and Jesus's 
assenting answer; and then, quite unintelligibly, 
makes Pilate declare *' unto the chief priests and 
the multitudes, I find no fault in this man." 

What can it mean ? All the exegetes now agree 
that the "Thou sayest" of Jesus has the force of 
" I am." ^ By avowing that he called himself King 
of the Jews he committed a very grave offence 
towards Rome, unless he explained the title in a 
mystic sense; and the records exclude any such 
explanation. In Mark and Matthew the effect is 
the same : Pilate finds no guilt, and proposes release ; 
but yields to the multitude and the priests. Could 
any serious student bring himself to regard this as 

1 E.g. Dcalman, The Words of Jesus, p. 312 ; Brandt, Die evan- 
gelische Oeschichte, p. 89 ; Loisy, Les ivangiles, ii, 517, note ; 
604, note ; 633. 



168 THE HISTOEIOAL JESUS 

history unless he presupposed the historicity of the 
crucifixion and was ready to let pass any semblance 
of motivation for it ? 

Once more we must affirm that the documents 
merely reveal entire ignorance of any judicial proce- 
dure. Pilate finally puts to death a Jewish prisoner 
at the request of the sanhedrim and the multitude 
on a charge for which he finds no evidence. That 
Pilate should make light of a Jew's life is indeed 
easily to be believed : he is exhibited to us by 
Josephus as an entirely ruthless Koman ; but both 
the synoptics and the fourth Gospel present him in 
an entirely different light ; and no record or com- 
mentary makes it intelligible that the Koman 
governor should crucify a politically unoffending 
Jew for a purely ecclesiastical Jewish offence. The 
offence against Rome he is expressly represented 
as finding imaginary; and yet on the other hand 
the offence as avowed is very real. By the method 
of mere accommodation or partial critical rationalism 
the ascription of the prosecution to the Jews is 
accounted for as the result of the later developed 
anti-Judaism of the Christians. But on that view 
what historical basis have we left? If the later 
Christians could invent the trial and the Resurrec- 
tion, what was to prevent their inventing the cruci- 
fixion ? M. Loisy admits that if the trial goes the 
historicity of Jesus goes with it ; then the crucifixion 
becomes myth. To say that this is impossible is 
to beg the question : the myth theory offers the 
solution. 

Given the datum of an original cult-sacrament 



THE TEIAL CEUX 169 

which had grown out of an ancient ritual-sacrifice, 
the crucifixion is the first step towards the estabHsh- 
ment of a biography of Jesus. A trial and a con- 
demnation, again, are necessary preliminaries to 
that; and when we critically examine these we 
find that they are patently unhistorical. Upon no 
theory of historicity can their contradictions and 
impossibilities be explained. Once we make the 
hypothesis, however, that the crucifixion is itself 
myth, the imbroglio becomes intelligible. 

What we do know historically is that the early 
Christists included Judaizers and Gentilizers; this 
is established by the sect-history, apart from the 
Acts and the Epistles. For the Judaizers an execu- 
tion by the Komans was necessary; for the Gen- 
tilizers, who were bound to guard against official 
Eoman resentment, and whose hostility to the Jews 
was progressive, a Jewish prosecution was equally 
necessary. In the surviving mystery-play, pre- 
dominantly a Gentile performance as it now stands 
in the Gospels, an impossible Jewish trial is followed 
by an equally impossible Koman trial, in which 
Jesus by doctrinal necessity avows that he is King 
of the Jews, thereby salving his Messiahship ; while, 
to keep the guilt on Jewish shoulders and to exclude 
the suspicion of anti-Eoman bias, Pilate is made 
to disclaim all responsibility. Such is, briefly, the 
outcome of the myth theory. Upon what other 
theory can the documents be explained ? 

Upon what other theory, again, can we explain 
the vast contrast between the triumphal entry into 
Jerusalem a few days before and the absolute 



170 THE HISTOEICAL JESUS 

unanimity of the priest-led multitude in demanding 
the execution of Jesus against the wish of Pilate ? 
The reconstructors accept both items, with arbitrary 
modifications, as historical ; though the story of the 
entry is preceded by a mythical item about the 
choice of the ass-foal whereon never man had sat,* 
which is much more stressed and developed than 
the main point. We are asked to believe that Jesus 
on his entry is enthusiastically acclaimed by a great 
multitude as Son of David and King of Israel ; and 
that a few days later not a voice is raised to save 
his life. Gentilizing Christians could easily credit 
such things of the Jews. Can a historical student 
do so ? For the former it was enough that in the 
narrative the Messiahship of the Lord had been 
publicly accepted; coherence was not required. 
But historicity means coherence. 

Last of all, the item of Barabbas, one of the 
elaborate irrelevancies which leap to the eye in a 
narrative so destitute of essentials, turns out to 
carry a curious corroboration to the myth-theory. 
This is not the place to develop the probable kinship 
of the Barabbas of the Gospels with the (misspelt) 
Kar abbas ^ of Philo ; but we may note the probable 
reason for the introduction of the name into the 
myth. As the story stands, it serves merely to 



1 This is the one of the two stories preferred by the " liberal " 
school, who dismiss the story of the tiuo asses as a verbal hallucina- 
tion rather than recognize a zodiacal myth. It makes no final 
difierence. The "ass the foal of an ass," in their exegesis, still 
means an unbroken colt, an impossible steed for a procession. 

2 See Pagan Christs, 2nd ed., and Christianity and Mythology, 
2nd ed., per index. 



THE TEIAL CEUX 171 

heighten the guilt of the Jews, making them in 
mass save the life of a murderer rather than that 
of the divine Saviour. The whole story is plainly 
unhistorical : '* neither these details nor those which 
follow," remarks M. Loisy (after noting the " ex- 
tremely vague indications under an appearance of 
precision " in regard to the antecedents of Barabbas) , 
" seem discussible from the point of view of history." ^ 
In point of fact, Pilate is made to release an osten- 
sible ringleader of "men who in the insurrection 
[unspecified] had committed murder," thus making 
his action doubly inconceivable. Why was such an 
item introduced at all ? 

It is not a case for very confident explanation ; 
but when we note that Barabbas means '' Son of 
the Father"; that the Karabbas of Philo is treated 
as a mock-king; and that the reading "Jesus 
Barabbas " in Matt, xxvii, 16, 17, was long the 
accepted one in the ancient church,^ we are strongly 
led to infer (1) that the formula " Jesus the Son 
of the Father " was well known among the first 
Christians as being connected with a popular rite — 
else how could such a strange perplexity be intro- 
duced into the text?— and (2) that the real reason 
for introducing it was that those anti-Christians 
who knew of the name and rite in question used 
their knowledge against the faith. The way to 
rebut them was to present Jesus Barabbas not only 
as a murderer but as the man actually released to 

^ Les ivangiles, ii, 643. 

2 Nicholson, The Oospel According to the Hebrews, 1879, 
pp. 141-42. 



172 THE HISTOEICAL JESUS 

the Jewish people instead of Jesus the Christ, pro- 
posed to be released by Pilate. 

Again, then, on the mythical theory, we find a 
meaning and a sane solution where the historical 
theory can offer none. Sir James Frazer's hypo- 
thesis that the story of the triumphal entry may 
preserve a tradition of a mock-royal procession for 
a destined victim is only a partial solution ; and his 
further hypothesis of a strangely ignored coincidence 
between a Barabbas rite and the actual crucifixion 
of the Christian " Son of the Father " is but a 
sacrifice of mythological principle to the assumption 
of historicity. The conception of Jesus as sacrificed 
lies at the core of early Christian cult-propaganda. 



Chaptee XVII 

THE JESUS-FIGUEE OF M. LOISY 

It is the same, finally, with the story of the original 
evangel as with the story of the tragedy ; M. Loisy 
fails to come within sight of historicity in the one 
case as in the other. Having fallen back on the 
thesis, so popularized by Eenan, that faith in the 
necessary resurrection of the Messiah created the 
legend of the empty tomb and the divine apparitions, 
he proceeds to formulate the Teaching which had 
created the faith. The historic creed of Christianity 
is thus figured as a pyramid poised on the apex of 
a hallucination ; but we are assured that the hallu- 
cination resulted from the greatness of the Person- 
ality of the slain Teacher. 

Taking no note of any other conception of a 
possible origination of the cult, M. Loisy pronounces 
that to explain it we must hold that the " group of 
adherents " had before the crucifixion evolved 
a ** religious life " sufficiently deep to sustain the 
feeling that the death of the Master was an accident, 
*' grave no doubt [!] and perturbing, but reparable 'V 
and to explain this religious life he goes back to the 
Master's doctrine. And the moment he begins his 
exposition he vacillates anew over the old dilemma : — 

^ J4sus et la tradition, p. 114. 
173 



174 THE HISTOEICAL JESUS 

Jesus pursued a work, 7iot the propagation of a 
belief ; he did 7iot explain theoretically the Kingdom 
of Heaven, he prepared its coming by exhorting 
men to repent. Nevertheless even the work of Jesus 
attaches itself to the idea of the celestial kingdom ; 
it defines itself in that idea, which presupposes, 
implies, or involves with it other ideas. It is this 
combination of ideas familiar to Christ that we must 

reconstruct with the help of the Gospels The 

idea of the kingdom of God is, in a sense, all the 
Gospel; but it is also all Judaism 

Exactly. Jesus, in effect, preached just what the 
Baptist is said to have preached ; only without 
baptism. The monition to repent was simply the 
monition of all the prophets and all the eschato- 
logists; and it had not the attraction of baptism 
which the evangel of the Baptist was said to have. 
So that the Twelve, on the showing of M. Loisy, 
went through Jewry uttering only one familiar 
phrase — and casting out devils — and dooming those 
who refused to hear them. And, by their own 
report, it was in casting out devils that they had 
their success. The simple ?iame of Jesus, according 
to the Gospels, availed for that where he had never 
appeared in person. Yet, again, the name is used 
by non-adherents for the same purpose (Mk. ix, 38) . 
And still M. Loisy confidently claims that there is 
no trace of a pre-Christian Jesus cult in Palestine ! ^ 

Concerning the nullity of the original evangel he 
is quite unwittingly explicit when he is resisting 
the myth theory ; albeit in the act of contradicting 
himself : — 

1 Id. pp. 117-18. 

2 A^n-ojpos d'histovre des religions, 1911, pp. 274-281. 



THE JESUS-FIGUEE OF M. LOISY 175 

Paul, indeed, proclaims [se reclame du\ an im- 
mortal Christ, or more exactly a Christ dead and 
re-arisen, not the Jesus preaching the evangel in 
Galilee and at Jerusalem. But his attitude is easy 

to explain He was aware of the circumstances of 

the death of Christ, and of what was preached by his 

followers If he boasted of having learned nothing 

from the old [sic] apostles, it was that, in reality, he 

had never been at their school But he was able 

[il lui arrive] also to affirm the conformity of his 
teaching with theirs : that is what he did in the 

passage touching the death and resurrection of 

Jesus. Paul converted had nothing to demand of 
the first apostles of Jesus, because he knew already 
what they had preached.^ 

So that the doctrine of an immortal or resurrected 
Christ was the sole doctrine of the Apostles. There 
was no other evangel. And this doctrine, which 
had just been declared to be born of the personal 
impression made by Jesus on his followers, is also 
the doctrine of Paul, who had never seen Jesus. 

The primary evangel having thus simply dis- 
appeared, we revert to the Jesuine Teaching 
(addressed in large part only to the disciples) which 
had formed among disciples and adherents such a 
'* religious life " as served to develop the conviction 
that the Master could not really die, and so pre- 
pared the foundation upon which Paul built historic 
Christianity.^ We have seen how M. Loisy vacillates 
over the Founder's conception of the Kingdom of 
God in relation to his moral teaching. When it is 
a question of a myth theory, M. Loisy insists upon 
exactitude. *'In order that the thesis should be 

^:id. pp. 296-97. ^ Id. p. 314. 



176 THE HISTOEICAL JESUS 

sustainable, it would be necessary that a well- 
defined myth should have existed in some Jewish 
sect." ^ But there is no call for well-defined proofs 
or notions when it is a question of defending the 
tradition. For our critic, Jesus is first and foremost 
an intense believer in a miraculous advent of that 
Kingdom which had come simply to mean " the 
sovereignty of God."^ Even this conception is of 
necessity vague to the last degree : — 

The primitive nationalism subsisted at least in the 
framework [cadre] and the exterior economy of the 
kingdom of God ; it maintained itself also in [jusque 
dans] the evangel of Jesus. At the same time the 
kingdom of God is not a simple moral reform, to 
safeguard the law of the celestial Sovereign and 
guarantee the happiness of the faithful. The action 

of Yah weh governs the entire universe [The 

cosmological tradition] developed the idea of a 
definite triumph of light over darkness, of order over 
chaos, a triumph which was to be the final victory 

of good over evil The terrestrial kingdoms 

were to disappear, to give place to the reign of Israel, 
which was the reign of the just, the reign of God. 
In this great instauration of the divine order, in this 
regeneration of the universe, the divine justice was 
to manifest itself by the resurrection of all the true 
faithful.' 

This transformation, then — the long current dream 
of Jewry — was to be a vast miracle, and in that 
miracle Jesus believed he was to play the part of 
the Messiah, the divine representative. That expec- 

1 Id. p. 280. 

^ So Dalman {The Words of Jesus, p. 94 sq.), as well as Loisy. 
They agree that " kingdom of heaven " was only a more reverent 
way of saying the same thing. {Jesus et la tradition, p. 128.) 

^ J^sus et la tradition, pp. 125-26. 



THE JESUS-FIGUEB OE M. LOISY 177 

tation sustained him till the moment of his death/ 
Nevertheless " his idea of the reign of God was not 
a patriotic hallucination or the dream of an excited 
\_exalte] mystic. The reign of God is the reign of 
justice." ^ (As if the second sentence proved the 
first.) And yet, all the while : ''On the whole, 
the Gospel ethic is no more consistent than the hope 

of the kingdom Considered in themselves, as the 

Gospel makes them known to us, they are not 
mythic, hut mystic.'' ^ 

Thus helped to a definite conception, we turn to 
the ethic, which we have seen to be in the main 
a compilation from Jewish literature. This fact 
M. Loisy admits, only to deny that it has any 
significance : — 

He opposes the voice of his conscience to the 
tradition of the doctors. There lies precisely the 
originality of his teaching, which, if one recomposed 
the materials piece by piece, could be found scattered 
in the Biblical writings or in the sayings of the 
rabbis. Like every man who speaks to men, Jesus 
takes his ideas in the common treasure of his environ- 
ment and his time ; but as to what he makes of it 
[pour le parti qu'il en tire] one does not say that it 
proceeds from any one. This independence results, 
probably, at once from his character and from the 
circumstances of his education.'* 

Thus, as regards the Sermon on the Mount, the 
act of collecting a number of ethical precepts and 
maxims from the current literature and lore of 
one's people and curtly enouncing them, without 

1 Id. p. 105. Cp. p. 168. 
^ Apropos d'histoire des religions, p. 287. 
8 Id. pp. 288-89. ^ Jdsus et la tradition, p. 136. 

N 



178 THE HISTOEICAL JESUS 

development, is a proof of supreme moral originality, 
and is to be regarded as opposing the voice of one's 
conscience to tradition. Had the rabbis, then, no 
conscience? Was their ethic a mere tradition, even 
when they gave out or originated the maxims of the 
Sermon on the Mount ? Was Hillel but a mouth- 
piece of the law ? M. Loisy must in justice pardon 
us for avowing that so far he has but duplicated 
a worn-out paralogism, and that he has evaded 
the plain documentary fact that the Sermon is a 
literary compilation,^ and not a discourse at all. 

And when we turn to specific teachings, his com- 
mentary does but compel us to ask how the teaching 
which he insists upon taking as genuinely uttered by 
the Teacher can be associated with the Messianist 
he has been describing. Accepting as genuine the 
story of the woman taken in adultery, now bracketed 
in the English Eevised Version as being absent from 
the most ancient manuscripts, but presumably found 
in the lost Gospel of the Hebrews,^ he remarks that 
** the elect of the kingdom must not use marriage ; 
they were to be as the angels in heaven " '/ and 
at the same time he describes the veto on divorce as 
*' a trait so personal to the teaching of Christ, and 
so difficult to comprehend if one denies all originality 
to that teaching." ^ That is to say, the believer in 
the speedy end of all marriage relations, and the 



* Schmiedel pronounces it a " conglomerate." Encyc. Bib. art. 
Gospels, col. 1,886. 

2 See Nicholson, The Gospel according to the Hebrews, 1879, 
p. 52 sq. 

^ Jisus et la tradition, p. 143. 

^ Id. ib. and Apropos d'histoire des religions, p. 288. 



THE JESUS-FIGUEE OF M. LOISY 179 

establishment of a new and angelic life for all who 
survive, occupied himself earnestly with the restric- 
tion or abolition of divorce ! 

At other junctures M. Loisy is ready to see how 
the doctrines of sections and movements in the later 
Christian Church were introduced into the Gospels. 
He will not admit of such an explanation here. 
Does he then see a supreme moral inspiration in the 
Montanists and other Christian sectaries who set 
their faces against the sexual instinct ? Has he 
forgotten the text in Malachi (ii, 14-16), vetoing 
a heartless divorce ? And has he never heard of 
the saying of Eabbi Eliezer, echoed elsewhere in 
the Talmud, that the altar sheds tears over him 
who puts away his first wife ? Is the moral origi- 
nality of the Gospel teaching to be established by 
merely ignoring all previous teaching to the same 
effect ? 

But it is hardly necessary thus to revert to the 
question of the ethical originality of the Gospel 
teaching : the essential issue here is the impossible 
combination presented to us by M. Loisy as his 
historical Jesus. Without any sign of misgiving 
he offers us the figure of a mystic awaiting the 
imminent end of the old order of things and the 
substitution of a new and heavenly order, doubled 
with a moralist deeply preoccupied over certain 
details of the vanishing life and a prescription for 
their regulation in the future in which they were 
not to exist. M. Loisy is, indeed, liable to be 
censured by the orthodox and the " hberals " alike 
for his explicit avowal that "It is very superfluous 



180 THE HISTOEICAL JESUS 

to seek in the Gospel a doctrine of social economy, 
or even a program of moral conduct for individual 
existences which were to go on according to the 
order of nature, in the indefinite sequence of 
humanity."^ This seems to overlook the passage 
(Mt. XXV, 34-46) in which eternal life is promised 
to those who succour the distressed. Such a rule 
for conduct does seem to indicate some regard for 
the continuance of life on the normal lines. It is, 
we know, a simple adaptation from the ritual of 
the Egyptian Book of the Dead, but it has had 
from many commentators even such praise for 
" originality " as M. Loisy has bestowed on the 
Teaching in general. 

Such teaching is, in point of fact, quite undeserv- 
ing of praise for *' spirituality," inasmuch as it in 
effect recommends benevolence as a way of securing 
eternal life. He who succours the distressed on the 
motive so supplied is plainly a long way below the 
Good Samaritan or the simple compassionate human 
being of everyday life. But this is really the ground- 
note of all the Gospel ethic. The Beatitudes are 
promises of compensatory bliss; and, indeed, in a 
system which founds upon imnjortality there is no 
escape from this kind of motivation. The Pagan 
appeal, made alternately to nobleness and to concern 
for good repute among one's fellows, is clearly on 
the higher plane, and would tend to maintain, so 
far as mere moral appeal can, a nobler type of 
human being. It is not even clear, in the light of 

* J&sus et la tradition, p. 141. 



THE JESUS-FIGUBE OF M. LOISY 181 

the general Judaism of the doctrine of the Kingdom, 
whether " one of these my brethren " can mean 
more than *' one of the faith." 

But however that may be, we have to note that 
for M. Loisy the promise of reward at the judgment 
for help given to the distressed is not a Jesuine 
utterance. It occurs only in Matthew; and we 
may readily agree that, if such an allocution were 
really delivered by the alleged Founder, it could 
not conceivablv have been left to one collector to 
preserve it. " The redactor of the first Gospel," 
comments M. Loisy in his best critical vein, " thought 
he ought to put this here to complete his collection 
of instructions concerning the parousia and the 

great judgment. It is a piece in which is 

developed, from the point of view of the last judg- 
ment, the word of the Lord : ' He that receiveth 
you receiveth me.' " So that a teaching which 
still makes a great impression on the Christian 
consciousness is confessedly but a development by 
an unknown hand of a bare Messianic phrase. " It 
has been visibly arranged to close the compilation 
of discourses and parables made here by the redactor 
of the first Gospel." ^ 

Yet when we come to the parable of the Good 
Samaritan, which occurs only in Luke, and which 
also cannot be conceived as being deliberately 
omitted by the previous evangelists if it had been 
uttered by the Master, M. Loisy indulges in. a very 
long discourse that reads like a preserved sermon, 

* Les 4vangiles synoptiqtces, ii, 482-83. 



182 THE HISTOEICAL JESUS 

only to conclude that '' the parable of the Samaritan 
thus offers itself as one of the most authentic testi- 
monies [im temoignage authentique entre tons] of 
the teaching of Jesus. It is clear that the evan- 
gelist has not invented it, but that he has found it 
ready made, and that he has only given it a frame, 
in his fashion." ^ It is v^ith a certain embarrass- 
ment over the spectacle of a good scholar's divagation 
that one proceeds to point to the absolute 7ion 
seqiiitur in M. Loisy's comment. Supposing v^e 
agree that the evangelist found the parable ready 
made, v^herein is this case differentiated from that 
of the passage in Matthev7 last noted ? That is 
at least as likely to have been found ready made ; 
yet it is not in that case claimed by M. Loisy that 
the passage is therefore a record of a real Jesuine 
utterance. He sees that it is a ''patch," a develop- 
ment. 

Now, the parable of the Good Samaritan is a 
plain documentary "patch," an insertion without 
context, between the address of Jesus to the disciples 
after that to the returned Seventy (whose mission 
M. Loisy had somewhat nervously dismissed as the 
evangelist's '' figurative frame for the evangelizing 
of the pagans " ^) and the resumption : " Now, as 

they went on their way " It is impossible to 

imagine a more palpable insertion. First the 
mythic Seventy, the creation of a Gentilizing 
Christian, make their report on the exact lines of 
the report of the Twelve; then Jesus addresses 

1 Id. ii, 357. 2 Id. i, 152. 



THE JESUS-FIGUEE OF M. LOISY 183 

them ; then he " rejoices in the Holy Spirit." 
Then, " turning to the disciples, he said privately y 
Blessed are the eyes which see the things that ye 

see " This last suggests an earlier allocution 

to the Twelve which has had to be turned into a 
" private " speech to them to distinguish it from the 
reply to the Seventy/ -But however that may be, 
the natural sequel is verse 38, " Now, as they went 

on their way " And it is between these points 

of natural connection that we get the parable 
episode beginning : " And behold, a certain lawyer 

stood up and tempted him " 

Well may M. Loisy say that the episode is a 
thing " found ready made "; it has certainly no 
place in the original document. But it was " made " 
by a later hand, and it was inserted either by him 
who made it or by him who *' found " it. It is the 
work of a Gentilizer, aiming at Jewish priests and 
Levites, and in a less degree at the scribes, whom 
he treats as comparatively open to instruction. It 
is part of the Gentilizing propaganda which evolved 
the story of the mission of the Seventy, and it is 
naturally inserted after that episode. But to admit 
that to be a work of redaction and to call the 
parable a genuine Jesuine utterance is only to give 
one more distressing illustration of the common 
collapse of the simplest principles of documentary 
criticism under the sway of conservative preposses- 
sion. M. Loisy retains the parable of the Good 
Samaritan as Jesuine simply because he feels that 

^ See above, p. 127. 



184 THE HISTOEICAL JESUS 

to abandon it is to come near making an end of the 
claim for the moral originality of the Gospels. It 
is probably from a Gentile hand, though it may 
conceivably have come from an enlightened Jew. 

And so we find M. Loisy, with all his scholarly 
painstaking and his laudable measure of candour, 
presenting us finally with an uncritical result. His 
historical Jesus will not cohere. It is a blend of 
early Judaic eschatology with later ethical common 
sense, early Judaic humanity and particularism with 
later Gentile universalism ; even as the Gospels are 
a mosaic of a dozen other diverging and conflicting 
tendencies, early and late. '* One can explain to 
oneself Jesus," exclaims M. Loisy ; " one cannot 
explain to oneself those who invented him." ^ Let 
the reader judge for himself whether M. Loisy has 
given us any explanation ; and whether, after our 
survey, there is any scientific difficulty in the con- 
ception of an imaginary personage produced, like 
an ideal photograph resulting from a whole series 
of superimposed portraits, by the continued travail 
of generations of men variously bent on picturing 
a Messiah for their hopes, a God for their salvation, 
and a Teacher for their lives. 



1 Apropos d'histoire des religions, p. 290. 



Chapter XVIII 

THE PAULINE PKOBLEM 

How much M. Loisy is swayed by prepossession 
may be further gathered from his argumentation 
over the " testimony of Paul " in connection with 
his criticism of the myth theory. Professor Drews, 
he remarks, does not follow those who contest the 
authenticity of the Epistles, " though the interest 
of his thesis imperiously demands it"; and again: 
" Paul is a dangerous witness for the mythic hypo- 
thesis." ^ 

It may be worth while for me here to note that 
a study of the Pauline epistles, on the view that 
" the four " were probably genuine in the main, 
was a determining factor in my own resort to the 
mythical hypothesis. The critical situation created 
by realizing that Paul practically knew nothing of 
the Gospel narratives save the detachable item of 
the resurrection was for me almost exactly analogous 
to that created by realizing that the Israel of the 
Book of Judges knew nothing of the Pentateuchal 
life in the wilderness. So far from being a witness 
against the myth theory, the Pauline literature was 
one of the first clear grounds for that theory. The 
school of Van Manen can realize, what M. Loisy 

^ Apropos d'histoire des religions, pp. 291, 304. 
185 



186 THE HISTOEICAL JESUS 

cannot, that the spuriousness of the whole PauHne 
Hterature, so far from being '' imperiously required " 
by the myth theory, sets up for that a certain com- 
plication.^ As a matter of fact, Van Manen took 
exactly the converse view to that of M. Loisy : — 

He was at bottom a man of conservative character, 
and it was only with great reluctance that he found 
himself compelled to abandon the Paul consecrated 
by tradition. But when, as a man of science, he 
had once made this sacrifice to his convictions, his 
belief in an historical Jesus received a fresh accession 
of strength ; now at length the existence of Jesus 
had become probable. If the letters were written 
a century later than the time when Jesus lived, then 
his deification in the Pauline letters ceases to be so 
astonishing.^ 

Decidedly M. Loisy had been somewhat superficial 
in his estimate of the tendencies of the argument 
over Paul. Now, the myth theory, as it happens, 
is neither made nor marred by any decision as to 
the spuriousness of the Pauline letters. The crucial 
point is that, whether early or late — and the dating 
of them as pseudepigrapha is a difficult matter — the 
cardinal epistles have been i7iterpolated. This be- 
came clear to me at an early stage in my studies, 
independently of any previous criticism. That the 
two passages, 1 Cor. xi, 23-28 ; xv, 3-11, are 
interpolations, and that in the second case the 
interpolation has been added to, are as clear re- 
sults of pure documentary analysis as any in the 



^ Dr. G. A. van den Bergh van Eysinga, Radical Views about the 
New Testament, Eng. tr. 1912, p. 102. 
2 Id. pp. 101-2. 



THE PAULINE PEOBLEM 187 

whole field of the discussion.* And when M. Loisy 
ascribes to Professor Drews an ** entirely gratuitous 
hypothesis of interpolation," and implies that such 
hypotheses are set up because the texts are " ex- 
tremely awkward for the mythic theory," ^ he is him- 
self misled by his parti pris. Whereas I came to 
my conclusions ^ as to interpolation while working to- 
wards the myth theory, exactly the same conclusions 
as mine, I afterwards found, had been previously 
reached by at least one continental scholar^ who 
had not the mythic theory in view; and later by 
others '^ who equally stood aloof from it. M. Loisy 
would do well to ask himself whether it is not he 
who is uncritically swayed by his presuppositions, 
and whether the men to whom he imputes such 
bias are not the really disinterested critics. 

In regard to the text of 1 Cor. xv, 3 sg., he 
describes as surprising the argument that the 
account of the appearance of Jesus to " five hundred 
at once " is shown to be late by its absence from 
the Gospels. This very silence of the evangelists, 
he insists, " renders unplausible [invraisemhlable] 
the entirely gratuitous hypothesis of an interpola- 
tion." ^ One is driven to wonder what conception 
M. Loisy has formed of the manner of the compila- 



1 See Christianity and Mythology, 2nd ed. pp. 341, 357. 

2 Apropos d'histoire des religions, p. 294. 
8 First published in 1886. 

^ J. W. Straatman, in Critical Studies on First Corinthians, 
1863-65, cited by Mr. Whitiaker. 

^ W. Seufert, Der Ursprung und die Bedeutung des Apostolates, 
1887, p. 46 ; Sir G. W. Cox, lect. in Religious Systems of the World, 
3rd ed. p. 242. 

® Apropos d'histoire des religions, p. 295. 



188 THE HISTOEICAL JESUS 

tion of the Gospels. On his view, Paul had very- 
early put in currency the record that the risen 
Jesus had appeared to "above five hundred brethren 
at once " ; yet this record, so welcome to the 
Church, was never inserted in the Gospels. Why 
not ? In M. Loisy's opinion, one of them, at least, 
was penned or redacted in the Pauline interest : — 

One laid^Y without doubt affirm that the oldest 

of the synoptics, the Gospel of Mark, was composed, 

in a certain measure, in favour of Paul The same 

Gospel seems to have the conscious purpose of 
lowering the Galilean disciples to the advantage 
of Paul and his disciples.^ 

And while M. Loisy justly rejects, as opposed to 
the internal evidence, the claim that " Luke " is 
the intimate of Paul, and even denies that the third 
Gospel is really Pauline in tendency,^ he will hardly 
say that it is anti-Pauline, or likely on that or any 
other score to repel an important item of testimony 
to the appearances of the risen Jesus, supplied by 
such an authority as the Apostle to the Gentiles. 
He can give no reason whatever, then, why the " five 
hundred " item should appear neither in Gospels nor 
Acts. It is in point of fact to be taken as a very 
late interpolation indeed. And if M. Loisy, as in 
duty bound, would but note the sequence : " then 

to the twelve; then to above five hundred 

then to all the apostles," he might, as simple critic, 
see that there have been successive tamperings. 
As to the genuineness and the dating of the 

1 Id. p. 310. 

^ Les 4vangiles, i, 172, 173. Contrast the case put long ago by 
Zeller, The Acts of the Apostles, Eng. tr. 1875, i, 129-30. 



THE PAULINE PBOBLEM 189 

epistles, it may be well at this point to put the issue 
clearly. The general case of Van Manen is decidedly 
strong ; and the entire absence from the Acts of any 
mention of any public epistle by Paul is all in Van 
Manen's favour. The Epistle to the Eomans is so 
far dissolved under criticism that it might be classed 
as neither Pauline nor an epistle.^ That there are 
late literary elements in the rest of the cardinal 
" four " I have myself argued,^ independently of 
the question of the interpolations of quasi-history. 
For a free historical student there can be no primary 
question of how the dating of the epistles will affect 
the problem of the historicity of Jesus : the problem 
is to be scientifically solved on its merits. But 
while the school of Van Manen fail to recognize 
interpolations in the epistles as they stand, and to 
revise their chronology in the light of that fact, they 
are postponing the critical settlement. That the 
rejection of all the Pauline epistles as pseudepi- 
graphic is not at all a counter stroke to the myth 
theory is shown by Mr. Whittaker's definite 
acceptance of both positions. Van Manen was 
premature on the historicity question. 

Assuredly there is much to be done before the 
myth theory can be reduced to a definitive scientific 
form. It is to be hoped that, free as it is from 
perverting commitments, it may be developed rather 
more rapidly than the " liberal " theory of the human 

* Compare, however, the elaborate essay of Prof. G. A. Deiss- 
mann, in his Bible Studies (Eng. tr. 1901), on "Letters and 
Epistles," p. 48. 

2 Short History of Christianity, 2nd ed. p. 4. 



190 THE HISTOBICAL JESUS 

Christ, which has been on the stocks for over a 
hundred years without securing any higher measure 
of unanimity than exists among the Christian sects. 
But it can have no rapid acceptance. Questions of 
myth analogies — always open to the perverse 
handling of men who cannot or will not see that 
in mythology and anthropology claims of analogy 
are not claims of derivation — are apt to be obscure 
at best ; and the establishment of the hypothesis 
of a pre-Christian Jesus cult has been admitted 
from the outset to be difficult. And the sociological 
history of the rise of Christianity, to which the 
myth question is but preparatory, has still to be 
written. 

In this direction too there may be complications. 
Pastor Kalthoff's very important treatise on The 
KiSE OF Chkistianity puts the theory that the 
Church began as a communistic body ; and Karl 
Kautsky, in his Dee Uesprung des Christen- 
THUMS (1908), has vigorously developed that con- 
ception. It has some strong grounds, and it is beset 
by very serious difficulties, which Kautsky, I think, 
has not met. When he denies that there were 
Hellenistic experiments and propagandas which in 
a later period could have set some Christian enthu- 
siasts upon inventing a communistic beginning for 
the Church, he seems to ignore his own argument 
from the Epistle of James, and evidence which he 
could have found in Kalthoff. But unless the commu- 
nistic theory (adumbrated long ago in De Quincey's 
rash thesis that the Essenes were the first Chris- 
tians) is pressed as giving the toliole origin of 



THE PAULINE PEOBLEM 191 

Christianity, it remains a part rather of the socio- 
logical problem than of the hierological inquiry. 
And I do not think that Kalthoff, had he lived, 
would have so pressed it. He saw, I think, that 
there is a primary religious factor and problem, and 
that the other is secondary. There was a sacra- 
mental cult before there could be any communism. 
When the origin of the cult is made fairly clear the 
question of communism may be settled. But the 
Acts is a very dubious basis for a historical theory, 
and the Epistle of James tells rather of Ebionism 
than of communism. The history of the Ebionites 
and the Nazarenes, which for me was one of the 
points of reversion to a myth theory, seems to be 
the true starting point for the history of the Church. 



Chaptee XIX 
THE HISTOEY OF THE DISCUSSION 

In all things, finally, one must be prepared for a 
boundless operation of the spirit of controversy, 
which is as it were the atmosphere of intellectual 
progress, and, like the physical atmosphere, is 
traversed by much dust, many gusts, and many 
persistent currents. An infinite quantity of mere 
insolence and mere personal aspersion arises round 
every problem that disturbs widespread prejudice : 
we have seen some of it even in a survey which 
aims solely at bringing out the main arguments on 
our issue. And where a body of doctrine is related 
to an economic foundation, controversy is sure to be 
specially protracted. 

This has already been abundantly seen in the 
development of the " liberal " view of the human 
Christ, of which M. Loisy may be taken as an 
advanced representative ; while Professor Schmiedel 
may rank as an exponent too advanced to be other- 
wise than suspect for some of the school. It is 
instructive to realize that M. Loisy stands to-day 
very much where Strauss did eighty years ago. 
What was then revolutionary heresy is now become 
a very respectable form of professional theology. 
Only in his old age did Strauss himself realize to 

192 



THE HISTOEY OF THE DISCUSSION 193 

what philosophical conclusions his critical method 
led ; and on the historicity question he seems to 
have made no serious advance at all. Challenged 
by Ullmann to say v^hether, on his theory, the 
Church created the Christ of the Gospels or he the 
Church, Strauss replied that the alternative v^as 
false, and that both things had happened; the 
Christ being created by the faith of the Church, 
which faith in turn was created by the person of 
the historical Jesus. From that gyratory position 
he never really departed ; and that is the position 
of M. Loisy to-day. 

If it has taken eighty years to yield only that 
amount of progress, through a whole library of 
laborious scholarly literature, there can be no great 
weight left in the appeal to scholarly authority. 
The authority of to-day is the heretic of our grand- 
fathers' day. It is for the radical innovator, on the 
other hand, to learn the lesson which was not duly 
learned by his predecessors, unless it be that in 
some cases they were merely silenced by orthodox 
hostility. While many Freethinkers, probably, had 
come privately to the view of those intimates of 
Bolingbroke who are referred to by Voltaire as 
denying the historicity of Jesus, the two writers 
who first gave European vogue to the proposition, 
Dupuis and Volney, staked everything on the 
astronomical elements of the cult, and on the chief 
myth-analogies with Pagan religions. Their argu- 
ment was both sound and important, so far as it 
went ; but for lack of investigation on the Jewish 
side of the problem, and of the necessary analysis 

o 



194 THE HISTOKICAL JESUS 

of the Gospels, they failed to make any serious 
impression on the scholars, especially as so many 
Freethinking critics, down to Eeimarus and Voltaire, 
treated the historicity of Jesus as certain.^ And 
when an anonymous German writer in 1799 pub- 
lished a treatise on Bevelation and Mythology in 
which, according to Strauss, he posited the whole 
life of Jesus as pre-conceived in Jewish myth and 
speculation, he made no impression on an age busily 
and vainly occupied with the so-called ''ration- 
alizing " of myths and miracles by reducing them 
to natural events misunderstood. 

Later, another — or the same? — anonymous Ger- 
man, also cited by Strauss, in a review article 
condemned every attempt to find a historical basis 
for the Gospel myths ; but in both cases the 
anonymity sufficiently told of the general resentment 
against any such view. And when Strauss himself, 
the first to handle the problem with an approach to 
scientific thoroughness, not only adhered to the 
central assumption of historicity, but argued con- 
fidently that the mythical dissolution of so many 
of the details made no difference to faith, it was 
natural that interest in his undertaking should 
slacken. The fact that it had ruined his career 
would perhaps count for still more. Freedom of 
academic discussion in Germany has never meant 
any minimizing of pious malice ; and Strauss all 



^ Wieland was something of a Freethinker ; but when Napoleon 
in the famous interview mooted the problem raised by Dupuis and 
Volney, Wieland treated it as pure absurdity. He was then an 
old man. 



THE HISTOEY OF THE DISCUSSION 195 

his life long had to bear his cross for the offence 
-of a new advance in historical science. 

Dr. Albert Schweitzer, who for almost the first 
time, after Schmiedel, has brought the note of 
amenity into the argument for historicity as against 
the negative, remarks that the greatest Lives of 
Jesus are those which have been written with hate — 
to wit, those by Keimarus and Strauss. Keimarus, 
whom Dr. Schweitzer genially overrates, was indeed 
given to invective against mythological personages, 
from Moses downward; but "hate" is a strange 
term to apply to the calm and judicial procedure 
of Strauss. As well ascribe to hate the rise of 
Unitarianism. If hate is to be the term for 
Strauss's mood, what epithet is left for that of his 
opponents, who, as Dr. Schweitzer relates, circled 
him with unsleeping malignity to the end, and 
sought to ostracize the clerical friend of his youth 
who delivered an address over his grave? It is 
only historic religion that can foster and sustain 
such hates as these. It is true that Bruno Bauer, 
who so suddenly advanced upon Strauss's position, 
detecting new elements of mythic construction in 
the Gospels, and arriving ten years later at the 
definite doctrine of non-historicity, exhibited a play 
of storm and stress in the earlier part of his inquiry. 
He reviled at that stage, not the Jesus whose " life " 
he was investigating, but the theologians who had 
so confounded confusion. '' These outbreaks of 
bitterness," Dr. Schweitzer admits, *' are to be 
explained by the feeling of repulsion which German 
apologetic theology inspired in every genuinely 



196 THE HISTORICAL JESUS 

honest and thoughtful man by the methods which 
it adopted in opposing Strauss." ^ Add that the 
same methods were being employed towards Bauer, 
and the case is perhaps simplified. 

With these cases before him, and with the record 
to write of a hundred and thirty years of admittedly 
abortive discussion, Dr. Schweitzer could not 
forgo an exordium in praise of the " German 
temperament" which had so wonderfully kept the 
discussion going. Such a record seems a surprising 
ground for national pride ; but it may be granted 
him that the German temperament will never lack 
material for self-panegyric, which appears to be 
the breath of its nostrils. To those, however, for 
whom science is independent of nationality, the 
lesson has a somewhat different aspect. What has 
been lacking is scientific thoroughness. Bruno 
Bauer's flaws of mood and method were such that 
his more radical penetration of the problem at 
certain points made no such impression as did the 
orderly and temperate procedure of Strauss. " One 
might suppose that between the work of Strauss 
and that of Bauer there lay not five but fifty years — 
the critical work of a whole generation." ^ " Bauer's 
* Criticism of the Gospel History ' is worth a good 
dozen Lives of Jesus, because his work, as we are 
only now coming to recognize, after half a century, 
is the ablest and most complete collection of the 
difficulties of the Life of Jesus which is anywhere 
to be found." ' 

* The Quest of the HistoricalJesus (Eng. tr. of Von Reimarus zu 
Wrede), 1910, p. 153. ^ Schweitzer, p. 151. ^ Id. p. 159. 



THE HISTOEY OF THE DISCUSSION 197 

But his mood and his method not only made him 
fail to establish his mythical theory ; they meant 
miscarriage in the very conception of it — a mere 
substitution of a subjective notion for the method 
of inductive science. Bauer's final way of putting 
the theory merely discredits it. He decides that 
the whole myth was the creation of one evangelist, 
whereby he shows that he is no mythologist. He 
never reached the true myth basis. After all, " the 
German temperament " seems to fall short, at some 
rather essential points, of the faculty for solving 
great historical problems ; one feels it somewhat 
acutely when Dr. Schweitzer comes to the under- 
taking himself. 

The great merit of Schweitzer's book is its manly 
and genial tone ; though, as this is freely bestowed 
on the most extreme heretics, he may make another 
impression when he speaks of the ''inconceivable 
stupidity " of the average Life of Jesus in the treat- 
ment of the connection of events. What his book 
mainly demonstrates is the laborious futility of the 
age-long discussion maintained by the professional 
theologians of Germany. When he comes to the 
latest developments, which are but extensions of 
the common-sense analyses of Bruno Bauer, he is 
full of admiration for criticisms which, I can testify, 
have occurred spontaneously to unpretending Free- 
thinkers with no claim to special training. Some of 
the most important myth elements in the Gospels — 
for instance, the story of Barabbas — he does not even 
glance at, having apparently, like the other specialists, 
never realized that there is anything there to explain. 



198 THE HISTOEICAL JESUS 

By Dr. Schweitzer's account, the great mass of 
the German speciaHsts for a century past have been 
unable to see contradictions and incompatibihties in 
the Gospels which leap to the eyes ; to himself, 
Wrede's statement of some of them appears to be 
a revelation. It would seem that the simple old 
*' Secularist " method of exposing these had covered 
ground which for the specialists was wholly unex- 
plored. Thus it comes about that the myth theory, 
addressed to men who had never realized the 
character of their own perpetually conned docu- 
ments, fared as it might have done if addressed to 
the Council of Trent. 

Of no myth-theories save those of Bruno Bauer 
and Pastor Kalthoff, which alike ignore the clues of 
mythology and anthropology, does Dr. Schweitzer 
seem to have any knowledge. He is capable of 
giving a senseless account of a book he has not 
seen, and, it may be, of one he has seen. Of 
Christianity and Mythology he alleges that 
"according to that work the Christ-myth is 
merely a form of the Krishna-myth " — a proposition 
which tells only of absolute ignorance concerning 
the book. If, as I suspect, he has no better ground 
for his account of Hennell's Inquiry as ''nothing 
more than Venturini's ' Non-miraculous History of 
the Great Prophet of Nazareth ' tricked out with a 
fantastic paraphernalia of learning," ^ it speaks ill 
for the regular functioning of his critical conscience. 
But where he has to deal with concrete arguments 

1 Work cited, p. 161. 



THE HISTORY OF THE DISCUSSION 199 

he is straightforward, alert, and readily apprecia- 
tive ; and his survey as a whole leads up to a 
complete dismissal of the whole work of the liberal 
school so-called. In his summing-up, the only 
critical choice left is between "complete scepticism" 
and " complete eschatology " — that is, between the 
avowal that there is no evidence for a historical 
Jesus, and the conviction that the historical Jesus 
was purely and simply a Jewish " hero and 
dreamer," whose entire doctrine was the advent of 
the kingdom of God, the ending of the old order, 
in which consummation he secretly believed he was 
to figure as the Messiah. 

The bare statement of the proposition hardly re- 
veals its significance. Dr. Schweitzer's " dreamer " 
is not M. Loisy's, who is conceived as having had 
something to teach to his disciples, and even to the 
multitude. Dr. Schweitzer's Jesus has, indeed, dis- 
ciples for no assignable reason, but he is expressly 
declared to be no Teacher, even as Wrede's Teacher 
is expressly declared to be no Messiah. The joint 
result is to leave the ground tolerably clear for the 
scientific myth theory, of which Dr. Schweitzer has 
not come within sight, having omitted to inquire 
about it. As he sums up : — 

Supposing that only a half — nay, only a third — 
of the critical arguments which are common to 
Wrede and the " Sketch of the Life of Jesus " [by 
Schweitzer] are sound, theji the modern historical 
view of the history is wholly ruined. The reader of 
Wrede's book cannot help feeling that here no 
quarter is given; and any one who goes carefully 
through the present writer's " Sketch " must come 



200 THE HISTOEICAL JESUS 

to see that between the modern historical and the 
eschatological life of Jesus no compromise is possible/ 

Let us see, then, to what the eschatological 
theory amounts, considered as a residual historical 
explanation. 



1 Id. p. 329. 



Chapter XX 

THE GROUND CLEARED FOR THE 
MYTH THEORY 

The issue as between Schweitzer and Wrede comes 
to this. Wrede sees that the Messiahship is a crea- 
tion following upon the belief in the resurrection, 
and only uncritically deducible from the documents. 
For him, Jesus is a Teacher who was made into a 
Messiah by his followers after his death, the Gospels 
being manipulated to conceal the fact that he made 
no Messianic claims. Schweitzer sees that the 
Teaching Jesus is a documentary construction ; 
and that, unless the Crucified One had soine 
Messianic idea, the Gospel story as a whole 
crumbles to nothing. And he asks : — 

But how did the appearance of the risen Jesus 
suddenly become for them [the disciples] a proof of 
His Messiahship and the basis of their eschatology ? 
That Wrede fails to explain, and so makes this 
** event " an " historical " miracle which in reality 
is harder to believe than the supernatural event. ^ 

So be it : Wrede's thesis is here, after all, part of 
the common content of the " liberal " ideal, which 
cannot stand. But how does his critic make good 
the converse of a would-be Messiah who was no 

1 Id. p. 343. 
201 



202 THE HISTORICAL JESUS 

Teacher, but yet had disciples, and was finally 
crucified for making a secret Messianic claim ? 
The answer is too naive to be guessed. Accepting, 
in defiance of every suggestion of common sense, 
the story of the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, 
Dr. Schweitzer decides that " the episode was 
Messianic for Jesus, but not Messianic for the 
people." With no authority save the documents 
which at this point he radically and recklessly 
alters, he decides that the multitude had hailed 
Jesus ''as the Prophet, as EUas," whatever the 
texts may say ; and Jesus, feeling he was the 
Messiah, '' played with his Messianic self-conscious- 
ness" all the while. Why, then, was he put to 
death ? Simply because Judas betrayed his secret 
to the priests ! Dr. Schweitzer can see well enough 
the futility of the betrayal story as it stands, inas- 
much as Judas is paid to do what was not required — 
identifying a well-known public figure. But rather 
than admit myth here he will invent a better story 
for himself, and we get this : Jesus had dropped 
Messianic hints to his disciples, and Judas sold the 
information. And all the while none of the other dis- 
ciples knew this, though at the trial the priests went 
among the people and induced them " not to agree 
to the Procurator's proposal. How ? By telling 
them why He was condemned ; by revealing to 
them the Messianic secret. That makes him at 
once from a prophet worthy of honour into a 
deluded enthusiast and blasphemer." ^ 

1 Id. p. 395. 



GEOUND CLEABED FOE MYTH THEOEY 203 

" In the name of the Prophet, figs ! " Dr. Schweit- 
zer has, he beheves, saved the character of '* the mob 
of Jerusalem " at last ; and by what a device ! By 
assuming that to claim to be the Messiah was to 
blaspheme, which it certainly was 'iiot ; ^ and by 
assuming that the mob who had (on Schweitzer's 
view) acclaimed an Elias would be struck dumb 
with horror on being told that Elias claimed to 
be the Messiah. The secret of this psychosis is in 
Dr. Schweitzer's sole possession, as is the explana- 
tion of the total absence of his statement from all 
the literature produced by the generation which, on 
his assumption, knew all about the case. And this 
is what is left after a survey of the German exegesis 
" from Keimarus to Wrede." 

It is to be feared that neither the scholars nor the 
laity will accept either of Dr. Schweitzer's alterna- 
tives, and that the nature of his own prestidigitatory 
solution may tend somewhat to weaken the effect of 
his indictment of the kaleidoscopic process which 
has hitherto passed as a solution among the experts. 
Dr. Schweitzer seems to realize all absurdities save 
his own. None the less, he has done a critical 
service in arguing down all the rest, though even 
in his final verdict he exhibits symptoms of the 
** sacred disease," the theologian's malady of self- 
contradiction : — 

The Jesus of Nazareth who came forward publicly 
as the Messiah, who preached the ethic of the 
Kingdom of God, who founded the Kingdom of 
Heaven upon earth, and died to give His work 

* Compare Dalman, TJie Words of Jesus, p. 313. 



204 THE HISTOEICAL JESUS 

its final consecration, never had any existence. He 
is a figure designed by rationalism/ endowed with 
life by liberalism, and clothed by modern theology 
in an historical garb 

Repasses by our time and returns to his oivn 

The historical foundation of Christianity as built 
up by rationalistic, by liberal, and by modern theo- 
logy no longer exists ; but that does not mean that 
Christianity has lost its historical foundation 

Jesus means something to our world because a 
mighty spiritual force streams forth from Him and 
flows through our time also^ 

" Loves me, loves me not," as the little girls say 
in counting the flower petals. We seem entitled 
to suggest in the interests of simple science, as 
distinguished from Germanic Kultur, that tempera- 
ment might perhaps usefully be left out of the 
debate ; and that the question of what Jesus stands 
for may be left over till we have settled whether the 
film presented to us by Dr. Schweitzer can stand 
between us and a scientific criticism which assents 
to all of his verdict save the reservation in favour of 
his own thesis. 

Meantime, let us not seem to suggest that the 
English handling of the historical problem during 
the nineteenth century has been any more scientific 
than the German. Hennell's treatment of it was 
but a simphfication of Strauss's ; and Thomas 
Scott's Life of Jesus was but an honest attempt to 
solidify Eenan. In the early part of the nineteenth 
century little was achieved beyond the indispensable 

^ I.e., the old German "rationalism" so-called, the theological 
method of compromise with reason. 
2 Id. pp. 396-97. 



GEOUND CLEAEED FOE MYTH THEOEY 205 

weakening of the reign of superstition by critical 
propaganda. In early Victorian England, where 
Freethought had been left to unprofessional free- 
lances, still liable to brutal prosecution, an anony- 
mous attempt was made to carry the matter further 
in a curious book entitled " The Existence of Christ 
Disproved by Irresistible Evidence, in a Series of 
Letters by a German Jew." It bears no date, but 
seems to have been published between 1841 and 
1849, appearing serially in thirty penny weekly 
numbers, printed in Birmingham, and published in 
London by Hetherington. As Hetherington, who 
died in 1849, was imprisoned in 1840 for the 
" blasphemous libel " of publishing Haslam's 
Lettees to the Clergy, but not earlier or later 
on any similar charge, he would seem to have been 
allowed to publish this without molestation. 

About the author I have no information. He 
writes English fluently and idiomatically, and had 
read Strauss in the original. But though he presses 
against Hennell the argument from the case of 
Apollos, latterly developed by Professor W. B. 
Smith with such scholarly skill, the book as a 
whole has little persuasive power. The author is 
one of the violent and vehement men who alone, in 
the day of persecution, were likely to hazard such 
a thesis ; and he does it with an amount of vocifera- 
tion much in excess of his critical effort or his 
knowledge. It made, and could make, no impres- 
sion whatever on the educated world ; and I never 
met any Freethinker who had seen or heard of it. 

It is in another spirit, and in the light of a far 



206 THE HISTOEICAL JESUS 

greater accumulation of evidence than was available 
in the first half of the last century, that the mythical 
theory has been restated in our day. In particular 
it proceeds upon a treasury of anthropological lore 
which was lacking to Bruno Bauer, as it was to 
Ghillany, who was so much better fitted than Bauer 
to profit by such light. As knowledge of the past 
gradually arranges itself into science, and the malice 
of religious resistance recedes from point to point 
before the sapping process of culture, the temper of 
the whole debate undergoes a transmutation. After 
a generation in which a Lyell could only in privacy 
avow his views as to the antiquity of man, 
came that in which Tylor, without polemic, could 
establish an anthropological method that was to 
mean the reduction of all religious phenomena, on 
a new line, to the status of natural phenomena. 
And even the malice of the bigoted faithful, which 
will subsist while the faith endures, falls into its 
place as one of these, equally with the malice of the 
conventional theorists who meet the exposure of 
their untenable positions with aspersion in defect 
of argument. 

But the fact that a recent German exegete has 
been found capable of facing the problem in a spirit 
of scientific candour and good temper, and with 
something of the old-time detachment which made 
Rosenkranz marvel at Carlyle's tone towards Diderot, 
may be a promise of a more general resort to 
civilized controversial methods. In any case, the 
fact that a trained New Testament critic, under- 
taking to establish the historicity of Jesus, has 



GROUND CLEABBD FOR MYTH THEORY 207 

affirmed the scientific failure of all the preceding 
attempts, and offered a historic residuum which few 
will think worth an hour's consideration, seems a 
sufficient demonstration that the mythical theory 
is the real battleground of the future. 

In that connection it is interesting to note that 
Sir J. G. Frazer, who has so warmly contended 
that, as history cannot be explained '' without the 
influence of great men," we must accept the 
historicity of Jesus,^ latterly propounds a tentative 
theory of a historic original for Osiris, whom he 
supposes to have been perhaps evolved from the 
idealized personality of an ancient King Khent, 
buried at Abydos.^ It is a mere suggestion, and it 
at once evokes the reminder that, on the theorist's 
own general principles, King Khent may be regarded 
as having been theocratically identified with the 
already existing God. However that may be, the 
hypothesis does nothing to save Sir James's irre- 
levant plea about the operation of "great men" 
and "extraordinary minds" in the founding of all 
religions, for he does not suggest that King Khent's 
career in any way resembled the myth of Osiris, or 
that he first taught the things Osiris is said to have 
taught. So that, in the case of Osiris as of Jesus, 
the required great men and extraordinary minds 
may still, in the terms of the claim, be inserted at 
any point rather than in the personage named or 



* Adonis, Attis, Osiris, 3rd ed. (vols, v and vi of 3rd ed. of Ths 
Oolden Bough) i, 312, note. See the passage discussed in Chris- 
tianity and Mytiwlogy, 2nd ed. p. 281. 

^ Adonis, Attis, Osiris, as cited, ii, 19 sq., and pref. to vol. i. 



208 THE HISTORICAL JESUS 

suggested as Founder.^ If we agree to call the com- 
piler of the Sermon on the Mount and the parables 
of the Kingdom and the Prodigal Son and the Good 
Samaritan great men and extraordinary minds, Sir 
James's very simple argument is turned. And we 
should still be left asking who were the historic 
founders of the cults of Zeus and Brahma and Attis 
and Adonis, Dionysos and Herakles and Krishna 
and Aphrodite and Artemis. 

On the other hand, as it happens, that very sug- 
gestion as to King Khent points afresh to the myth 
theory as the solution of the Gospel problem. 
Nothing emerges oftener in Sir James's great survey 
than the ancient connection between kingship and 
liability to sacrifice. It will not avail to close off 
that connection by claiming King Khent as a 
potentate of an age after that of sacrificed kings. 
The sacrificial past would still have to be taken into 
account in explaining the deification of King Khent. 
And it is just an analogous process that is suggested 
in our theory of the Jesus myth. A long series of 
slain Jesuses, ritually put to death at an annual 
sacrament ''for the sins of many," is the ultimate 
anthropological ground given for the special cultus 
out of which grew the mythical biography of the 
Gospels. 

And if Sir James remains satisfied with his 
charge that in putting such a theory we " flatter 
the vanity of the vulgar," we may be permitted to 
ask him which line of propaganda is likeliest to 

^ Compare Prof. W. B. Smith's criticism of the "great mau" 
theory as put by Von Soden — Ecce Deus, p. 9 sq. 



GROUND CLEARED FOR MYTH THEORY 209 

appeal to the multitude. Let him, in his turn, be 
on his guard against the vulgarity which seeks 
support in science from popular prejudice. As to 
his pronouncement that the theory which he so 
inexpensively attacks '* will find no favour with the 
philosophic historian," one must just point out that 
it does not lie with him to draw up the conclusions 
of philosophic history outside of his own great 
department, or even, for that matter, in that depart- 
ment. His own historical generalizations, when 
they seek to pass from the strictly anthropological 
to the sociological status, will often really not bear 
the slightest critical analysis. They express at 
times an entire failure to realize the nature of a 
historical process, offering as they do mere chance 
speculations which patently conflict with the whole 
mass of the evidence he has himself collected. It 
is not an isolated opinion that by such abortive 
attempts at '' philosophic history " he has tended 
to lessen the usefulness even of that collection, for 
which all students are his grateful debtors. In 
short, he would do well to turn from his ill-timed 
incursion into dogmatics to the relevant problem 
which he has forced upon so many of his readers — 
namely. What has become of his mythological 
maxim that the ritual precedes the myth ? 

While the professed mythologist rejects the appli- 
cation of the myth theory to the current religion in 
the name of " philosophic history," students osten- 
sibly more concerned about religion reject the 
historicity theory in the name of their religious 
ideals, finding in the myth theory the vindication 

P 



210 THE HISTOEICAL JESUS 

of these. Thus Professor Drews has from the first 
connected the argument of his Das Chkistusmythe 
with a claim to regenerate reHgion by freeing it 
from anthropomorphism ; and I have seen other 
theistic pronouncements to the same effect ; to say 
nothing of the declarations of scholarly Churchmen 
that for them the Jesus of the Gospels is a God or 
nothing, and that for them the historicity argu- 
ment has no religious value. Such positions seem 
to me, equation for equation, very sufficiently to 
balance the bias of Sir James Frazer. For my own 
part, I am content to maintain the theory in the 
name of science, and it is by scientific tests that 
I invite the reader to try it. 



CONCLUSION 

Enough has now been said to make it clear to the 
open-minded reader that the myth-theory is no 
wanton challenge to belief in a clear and credible 
historical narrative. It is not the advocates of the 
myth-theory who have raised the issue. The 
trouble began with the attempts of the believers 
to solve their own difficulties. Before the rise of 
criticism so-called we find them hating and burning 
each other in their quarrels over the meaning of 
their central sacrament. As soon as criticism began 
to work on the problem of the miracles and the 
contradictions in the narratives of these, they set 
themselves to frame " Harmonies " of the Gospels 
which only brought into clearer relief their dis- 
cordance. After the spread of scientific views had 
shaken the belief in miracles, they set themselves, 
still as believers, to frame explanatory Lives of 
Jesus in which miracles were dissolved into hallu- 
cinations or natural episodes misunderstood ; and, 
as before, no two explanations coincided. A " con- 
sensus of scholars " has never existed. 

It was after a whole generation of German scholars 
had laboured to extract a historical Jesus from the 
Gospel mosaic that Strauss produced his powerful 
and sustained argument to show that most of the 
separate episodes which they had arbitrarily striven 

211 



212 THE HISTOEICAL JESUS 

to reduce to history were but operations of the 
mythopoeic faculty, proceeding upon the mass of 
Jewish prophecy and legend under the impulse 
of the Messianic idea. Strauss was no wanton 
caviller, but a great critic, forced to his work by 
the failure of a multitude of Gelehrten vom Fach 
to extract a credible result from what they admitted 
to be, as it stood, a history in large part incredible. 

Strauss, in turn, believing at once in a residual 
historical Jesus and in the perfect sufficiency of a 
mere ideal personage as a standard for men's lives 
and a basis for their churches, left but a new 
enigma to his successors. He had stripped the 
nominal Founder of a mass of mythic accretions, 
but, attempting no new portrait, left him undeniably 
more shadowy than before. Later " liberal " criti- 
cism, tacitly accepting Strauss's negations, set itself 
anew to extract from the Gospels, by a process of 
more or less conscientious documentary analysis, 
the " real " Jesus whom the critics and he agreed to 
have existed. Kenan undertook to do as much in 
his famous "romance" ; and German critics, who so 
characterized his work, produced for their part only 
much duller romances, devoid of Kenan's wistful 
artistic charm. And, as before, every "biographer" 
in turn demurred to the results of the others. 

It is the result of the utter inadequacy of all 
these attempts to solve the historical problem, and 
of the ever-growing sense of the inadequacy of a 
mere legendary construction to form a code for 
human life and a basis for a cosmic philosophy, that 
independent inquirers in various countries have set 



CONCLUSION 213 



about finding out the real historical process of the 
rise of Christianity, dismissing the worn-out con- 
vention. Small-minded conservatives at once ex- 
claim, and will doubtless go on saying, that those 
who thus explain away the " historical Jesus," are 
moved by their antipathy to Christianity, and to 
theism in general. The assertion is childishly false. 
One of the leading exponents of the myth-theory 
gives his theism — or pantheism — as the primary 
inspiration of his work. The present writer, as 
he has more than once -explained, began by way 
of writing a sociological history of the rise of 
Christianity on the foundation of a historical Jesus 
with twelve disciples — this long after coming to a 
completely naturalistic view of religion, which 
excluded theism. From such a point of view there 
was no a priori objection whatever to a historical 
Jesus. At one time he sketched a hypothesis of 
several successive Jesuses. The intangibility of any 
historical Jesus was the conclusion slowly forced by 
a long attempt to clear the historical starting-point, 
supposed to be irreducible. 

Since that discovery was reached, the discrediting 
of the conventional view has been carried to the 
verge of nihilism by men who still posit a historical 
Jesus, but critically eliminate nearly every accepted 
detail, leaving only a choice between two shadowy 
and elusive historical concepts, even less tenable 
than those they reject. In the works of Schweitzer 
and Wrede, there is literally more direct and detailed 
destruction of Gospel-myth than had been attempted 
by almost any advocate of the myth-theory who had 



214 THE HISTOBICAL JESUS 

preceded them ; though, as we have seen, it is not 
difficult to carry the process further. In the name 
of the historicity claim, they have gone on eliminat- 
ing one by one myth elements where the myth- 
theorists had been content to recognize myth in 
mass. He who would re-establish the historical 
Jesus has to combat, first and foremost, the latest 
scientific champions of the belief in the historicity. 

Those English critics who, like Dr. Conybeare, 
have declaimed so loudly of a consensus of critics 
and of historical common-sense on the side of a 
" historical Christ," are simply fulminating from 
the standpoint of the German "liberalism" of thirty 
years ago. Nine-tenths of what they violently affirm 
has been definitely and destructively rejected by the 
latest German representatives of the critical class, in 
the very name of the defence of the historicity of 
Jesus. Orthodox Germans, on the other hand, have 
been pointing out that the " liberal " view is no 
longer "modern," the really modern criticism 
having shown that the Gospel-figure is a God- 
figure or nothing. Vainly they hope to reinforce 
orthodoxy by the operations of a strict critical 
method.^ Our English "liberal-conservatives," all 
the while, are fighting with obsolete (German) 
weapons, and in total ignorance of the real course 
of the campaign in recent years. 

In such circumstances, those of us who did our 
thinking for ourselves, without waiting for new 
German leads, have perhaps some right to appeal 

^ See the brochure of Prof. R. H. Griitzmacher, 1st das liberate 
Jesusbild modem? 1907. 



CONCLUSION 215 



anew to readers to do the same. There is no race 
quarrel involved. But perhaps those students in the 
English-speaking countries who in the past have 
been wont to follow the German leads of the 
generation before their own, may now realize that 
they were unduly diffident, and proceed to make 
that use of their own faculties which Germans were 
always making from time to time. 



INDEX 



Abu daoud, ii7 

Agony, the, 59, 161-62 

Albigenses, 99 

Alexander, Pope, 91 

Anthropology and religion, 206 

Apocalyptics, 114 n. 

Apollo, derogatory stories of, 

47-48 
Aramaisms and Hebraisms, 65 
Arnold, Matthew, his critical 

method as to Jesus, 22 ; and 

Colenso, 70 
Asceticism, 20 
Astruc, 5 

BACONISM, 31, 32, 63 

Baptism, 135-36 

Barabbas, 170 sq. 

Barante, quoted, 99, 100 

Barbarossa, 103 

Baruch, Apocalypse of, 121 

Bauer, Bruno, 195 i^q. 

Baur, F. C, 9, 53, quoted, 16 

Beatitudes, 122 

Beziers, capture of, 99 

Bible, study of, xiii 

Blass, P., Dalman on, 65 ; on 
Harnack, 71, 72, 158; as 
critic, 72 sq.; on predictions, 
83 sq., 93, 95-96, 104, 105, 
107, 114 ; on Papias, 121 ; on 
Luke, 124 n. 

Bleek, 162 

Bodin, 5 

Book of the Dead, 180 

Bousset, 114 n., 152 n. 

Boyle, 5 

Brandt, 161, 166 

Brescia, sack of, 103 

Bruce, Edward, 101 



Buddha, 76 

Burckhardt, cited, 98 

Burke, E., prediction of, 84 

Burkitt, Prof., 147 n. 

Butler, Bishop, and Mencius, 17 

C^SAR, Julius, assassination 

of, xii 
Cantu, cited, 96 n. 
Carlyle, 118, 206 
Carpenter, J. E., and the historic 

sense, 18 ; on the Good Sama- 
ritan, 23 
Catastrophic reform, theory of , 15 
Celsus, 139, 140 
Cerintlaus, 154 
Charles VIII, 87-89 
Charles, Canon, quoted, 13 ; 

and Dalman, 66 and n.; on 

Baruch, 121 
Chinese ethics, 17, 28 
Chrestos, xxi 
Christianity, progress of, 16 ; 

early sectarianism in, 169 ; 

communism in, 190-91 
Christianity and Mythology, 

Schweitzer on, 198 
Christs, 120 
Chronology, 71, 84, 108, 109, 

124, 129-30, 136-38 
Clergy and new doctrine, 4 
Clodd, E., 38 
Colenso, 5, 70 
Commines, Philip de, cited, 

101-102 
Confucius, 28 

Constantinople, sack of, 100 
Conybeare, F. C., xvii, xxii sg-., 

79 ?i., 116 n., 214 
Copernicus, hostility to, 1 sq. 



217 



218 



INDEX 



Cox, Kev. Sir G. W., quoted, 

100-101 
Cranmer, 4 

DALMAN, GUSTAF, 64 sq., 
176 n. 

Damnation, doctrine of, 15 

Darwin, opposition to, 3 

Davidson, S., quoted and criti- 
cized, 81 

Demiourgos, the, 153, 154 

Denton, Rev. W., cited, 99 

De Quincey, 190 

Derogatory stories of gods and 
heroes, 47 

Desecration of churches, 94 sq. 

Devils, casting out of, 55 

Diodorus Siculus, 44 

Dionysos, derogatory stories of , 47 

Disciples, calling of, in Mark, 
35 ; problem of alleged teach- 
ing of, 52 sq.; the seventy 
and the twelve, 125 sq. 

Divorce, 178-79 

Drama, in the Gospels, 59, 169 

Drews, Professor, xii, 185, 210 

Drummond, Principal, 152 n. 

Du Bartas, 2 

Dupuis, 193 

EBIONITES, 191 

Eliezer, Rabbi, 179 

Enoch, Book of, 121, 122 

Eschatological theory, 201 sq. 

Essenes, 190 

Ethics, Gospel and other, 12 sq., 

23 sq., 120, 118 sq. 
Eusebius, 321 
Experts and new theories, 2 sq. 

FABIUS MAXIMUS, Plutarch's 
presentment of, 39 

Faith healing, 79, 145 sq. 

Flint, Prof., on Christian and 
Chinese ethics, 17 

Florence, plagues in, 98 ; sacri- 
lege in, 102 

Folk-lore, verisimilitude of, 38 

Frazer, Sir J., xiv, 172, 207 sq. 

Friedmann, Dalman on, 65 



German, critical partizanism, 
72 ; habits in war, 96 ; tem- 
perament, 196, 197 ; and 
English criticism, 214-15 

Gfrorer, 152 n. 

Ghillany, 206 

Gladstone, xx 

Glanvill, 5 

Gnosticism, 153-54 

Golden Rule, the, 28 

Good Samaritan, the, 23 sq., 
181 sq. 

Gospel, the primitive, 51 sq., 58, 
125 

Gospels, the, Inge on, 8 sq. ; 
moral standards of the com- 
pilers of, 20 sq.; dating of, 71, 
84, 129-30 ; Gentile and anti- 
Gentile texts in, 112, 113, 
128; apocalyptics in, 114 n.; 
incompatibilities of teaching 
in, 117-18, 119 ; trials related 
in, 163 sq.; infancy episodes 
in, 124, 153 ; episodes of the 
seventy and the twelve, 125 sq.; 
oral theory of, 129 sq.; plan 
of, 130 ; synoptics and John, 
132 sq., 139 ; apocryphal, 153, 
178 ; Maries in, 155 sq.; 
Petrine and anti-Petrine texts 
in, 157 sq. 

Guicciardini, 88, 103 

Guiscard, Robert, 95 

HALCOMBE, 135 

Harnack, Dalman on, 66 ; Blass 
on, 71, 72, 158 ; on Christian 
tradition, 138 

Harris, Dr. Rendel, 111 

Harvey, reception of his dis- 
covery, 2 

Hawk wood, 95 

Hennell, 11, 204 ; Schweitzer 
on, 198 

Herakles, character of, 44 ; de- 
rogatory stories of, 47 

Hetherington, Henry, 205 

Hillel, 120 

Historic sense, the, 18 

Hochart, xxi n. 



INDEX 



219 



Holtzmann, Dalman on, 66 ; on 

Christianity, 80 
Homer, 38-39 
Huxley, xix 

Inge, Canon, criticized, 8 sq. 

Irenseus, 138 

Italy, invasions of, 87 sq. 

JAMES, epistle of, 132, 190-91 

Jerusalem, siege of, 105 

Jesus, alleged originality of, 
8 sq.,m sq.; betrayal of, 161 ; 
Mill on, 9 sq., 79 ; Arnold 
on, 22 ; alleged moral reform 
effected by, 15 ; alleged sub- 
limity of, 8 sq., 19,113; entry 
into Jerusalem, 169-70 ; im- 
perfect ethic attributed to, 
20 sq.; use of name of, 174; 
the pre-Christian, 55, 174, 190; 
crucifixion of, xiv, 30, 136, 137, 
169; trial of, 162 . '3. ; alleged 
personality of, 31 sq., 173; 
the denial of his historicity, 
193 sq., 205 sq., 213 ; present- 
ment of by Mark, 32 sq.; 
Schweitzer on, 199, 201 sq.; 
derogatory stories of, 45 sq.; 
enigma of his evangel, 52 sq., 
174: sq.; Wrede on, 199,201 sg'.; 
as political propagandist, 56 ; 
the ritually slain, 208 ; passion 
of, 57 sq.; temptation of, 76- 
78 ; conceptions of, 79 ; pro- 
phecies attributed to, 104 sq., 
113 sq., 120 ; incompatible 
teachings attributed to. 111 sq.; 
duration of ministry of, 136- 
38 ; Loisy on, 141 sq., 161 sq., 
nSsq.; country of, 147 and w.; 
as faith healer, 145 sq.; as 
carpenter, 152 sq.; Gnostic 
views of, 154 

John, the Apostle, 132 sq. 

John, the Baptist, 34, 54, 144 

JoUey, A. J., cited and criti- 
cized, 57 

Jonah, Book of, 45, 46 

Joseph, xvii 



Josephus, XX sq., 168 

Joshua, xii 

Judas, 32, 60, 166, 202 

KALTHOFF, A., 45, 190, 191, 

198 
Karabbas, 170, 171 
Karppe, Dr. S., 154 
Kautsky, Karl, 190 
Khent, King, 207, 208 
"Kingdom, the," problem of, 

32sg.,69, 174, 175, 176 
Kingship and sacrifice, 208 
Koran, the, 118 

LADISLAUS of Naples, 95 

Laible, H., Dalman on, 65 

Latimer, 4 

Law, Jewish, 164 

Leibnitz, 5 

Li^ge, sack of, 102 

Logia, as Gospel material, 82, 

107 sq., 123 ; of Oxyrhynchus, 

123 
Logos, the, 133 
Loisy, 7, 50 n., 75, 131 «., 

141 sg., 161 sg., US sq., 192 
Lucas, F., cited, 85 
Luther, 131 
Lycurgus, and Alcander, 24 sg.; 

historicity of, xiii 
Lyell, 206 

McCABE, J., 12 n., 40 

Mahabharata, ethics of, 28 

Malachi, 179 

Maries, problem of, 155 sq. 

Mark, presentment of Jesus by, 
S2sq., 46-47 ; Weiss on, 68- 
59 

Marshall, J. T,, Dalman on, 66 

Maurice, F. D., 70 

Medici, Giuliano de', murder 
of, 102 

Mencius, 17 

Messiah, requirements of, 152 ; 
Jesus as, 201 sq. 

Michaud, 100 n. 

Mill, J. S., quoted and criti- 
cized, 9 sq., 18, 121 n. 



220 



INDEX 



Miller, Hugh, and geological 
progress, 3 

Mohammed, 118 

Montanists, 179 

More, Henry, 5 

Miiller, K. 0., xiv 

Muir, 118 

Myth analogies and myth deri- 
vation, 190 

NAPOLEON, 194 
Nazarenes, 191 
Nazareth, 147 n., 151 
Neubauer, A., Dalman on, 65 
Newman, J. H., on Christian 

ethics, 16 
Nork, 11 
Nucleus theory, 107 sq., 116, 

119 

Odes of Solomon, 123 
Omar, Khalif, 111 
" Oral " theory, 129 sq. 
Origen, 139, 153, 161 
Osiris, Frazer on, 207 

PAPIAS, 120, 121 

Parvish, Samuel, 5 

Passion, narrative of the, 57 sq. 

Paul, Inge on, 8 ; Mill on, 10 ; 

Petrie on, 109 ; Loisy on, 175, 

185 ; problem of, 185 sq. 
Pentateuch, criticism of, 5 
Pericles, Plutarch's presentment 

of, 39-40 
Peter, and John, 133 ; in the 

Gospels and Acts, 157 sq. 
Petrie, Dr. Flinders, 50 n., 

82 sg., 96, 107 sg., 120 
Philo, 170 
Pilate, 166 sq. 
Pistis Sophia, 123 
Plato, 80 

Plutarch, cited, 24, 26, 39-40 
Predictions, and their fulfilment, 

8S sq., 104 sq. 
Presupposition, snare of, 1 sq., 

79 
Primitive Gospel, the, 51 sq., 

82, 83 



Psychology, 78 sq. 

EAFFAELE DA FIRENZUOLA, 

89 
Ramsay, Sir W., 137 
Reimarus, 194, 195 
Renan, 173, 212 
Resch, Dalman on, 65 
Robe, the seamless, 154 
"Rock" text. 111, 157, 158 
Rodrigues, Hippolyte, 12 
Rosenkranz, 206 
Ruskin, 118 
Buth, Book of, 45, 46 

SABBATARIANISM, hostility to 

in Gospels, 42-43 
Sacred Books, ethics of, 14 
Salmon, 109 
Sanday, 33 n. 
Satan, 77 
Savonarola, as prophet, 83 sq., 

115 
Schenk, Dr. J., 27 
Schmiedel, Prof., xvi, 7, 45 sg., 

69, 192 ; Dalman on, 65 ; on 

tual healing, 79-80 ; on spiri- 

faith healing, 145 sq.', on the 

Sermon on the Mount, 178 n. 
Scholarship, and new doctrine, 

3 ; alleged consensus of, 62 sq., 

211 
Schweitzer, Dr. Albert, 195 sq., 

201 sq., 213 
Scott, Thomas, 204 
Sermon on the Mount, 9, 11, 43, 

177-78 
Seventy, mission of, 125 sq. 
Shrewsbury, Earl of, 97 
Sinclair, Rev. F., 31 sq., 62-64 
Smith, W. B., xii, xx, xxi ?i., 

ASn., 49 n., 205 

Robertson, xiv 

Socrates, xiii 
Soissons, sack of, 100 
Spelman, quoted, 97 
Strauss, 35 n., 129 n., 152 n., 

192-93, 194-95, 211-12 
Suetonius, xx, xxi 
Sulpicius Severus, xxi 



INDEX 



221 



Tacitus, xx sq. 

Talmud, 152 n., 164, 179 

Temple, cleansing of, 161 

Temptation, the, 76-78 

Testaments of the Twelve Pa- 
triarchs, 12 sq. 

Thorburn, Dr. T. J., 23 sq., 
76-78 

Toland, xiv sq. 

Tom Tit Tot, 38 

Tylor, 206 

Tyndale, 4 

ULLMANN, 193 

VAN Manen, 185-86, 189 

Venturini, 198 

Villari, cited, 85, 86, 88 

Volkmar, 162 

Volney, 193 



Voltaire, and the Pentateuch, 
5 ; on the historicity of Jesus, 
194 

WEISS, B., 33, 51, 58-59, 80-81 
Wellhausen, on Mark, 36 sq.^ 

60 ; and Dalman, 66 and n.; 

on the garden scene, 162 
Wernle, 143 n. 
Westcott, 138 
Whately, 31 
Whittaker, T., 189 
Wieland, 194 n. 
Wilke, 33 
Witchcraft, defenders of belief 

in, 5 
Wrede, 199, 201 sq., 213 
Wright, Rev. A., 33 n., 60, 70- 

71, 129 sq. 
Wiinsche, 65, 152 n. 



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